According to a survey conducted by Caring.com, approximately 2/3 of Americans do not have an estate plan. If you have elderly parents without an estate plan, you might be wondering if you should discuss it with them. Talking about estate planning with parents can be a delicate yet important conversation. Despite its complexity, it is an important step in ensuring that your parents have a say in what happens to their finances and possessions after they pass away.
It is important that you do not put off having this important conversation. Recognizing the right time to broach this topic is key to a successful discussion.
The importance of early conversations
You should not wait for a crisis to talk about estate planning. Initiating the conversation early, preferably when your parents are in good health, provides the opportunity to discuss their wishes in a non-stressful environment. Early discussions also allow for thorough planning and revision of the plan as their life circumstances change.
Use life changes as a springboard
Certain life events can serve as appropriate triggers for discussing estate planning. For example, the death of a friend or relative, the sale of a family property or the diagnosis of a health condition can all be relevant moments to raise the topic. These instances naturally lead to contemplation about one’s mortality and the need for estate planning.
Financial changes can also signal the need for an estate planning discussion. Significant changes in your parent’s financial status, such as receiving an inheritance or selling a business, can necessitate adjustments to their estate plan.
How to approach the conversation
Approaching the conversation with sensitivity and respect is crucial. You should express concern for your parents’ welfare and make it clear that the goal is to honor their wishes. It can be helpful to frame the discussion around providing peace of mind for everyone involved and avoiding potential conflicts or misunderstandings in the future.
Talking to your parents about estate planning is a conversation that requires tact, patience and understanding. Ultimately, discussing estate planning is an act of care, aiming to ensure that your loved ones respect your parents’ final wishes.