We know that it is not easy to have the conversation with your parents about estate planning. It is not hard to figure out because so many people are not having the conversation. However, for those who are able to sit down and have this very important conversation with their parents can find tremendous benefit.
The barriers that can keep this conversation from happening are understandable. Most often, you may believe it will look greedy and selfish by trying to force a conversation about your parents estate planning. You may be uncomfortable because your family may have never spoke on the subject of money before. You may be like some people who just do not like talking about what will happen when a member of the family dies.
We know how easy it is to procrastinate from having this talk or to decide not to have it at all. But if you are able to talk with and work with your parents on their estate planning, you will both likely come to the realization that this conversation is done out of love.
One way to start this endeavor is having a plan. Here are some strategies that can help get things started.
Ask for a meeting – It can be easier for all involved to come into the conversation ready and with preparation. By setting a meeting time, you can speak of intentions that will drive the need for the conversation instead of springing it on them which can cause defensiveness. If you have siblings, be sure to ask them to be included in the meeting.
It is all about your parents – The whole time you are talking about having this conversation, make it clear the focus of what you are planning is for the benefit of your parents and their wishes. Tell your parents you want to hear directly from them about their wishes so the rest of the family will not have to be making guesses. You can point out that confusion and being unsure of wishes is the easiest way to cause animosity and create anger in the family.
Communicated effectively – The reason conversations like these can be tough is because intentions are not clearly communicated. The best way to diminish any thoughts of ulterior motives is to always be validating what your parents are telling you. Repeating what they are saying verbatim and recording that information on paper shows you are a helper and only assisting in the process and not steering it.
Once you have finished your conversation, you should get the help of a professional estate planning attorney who can assist in putting the legal documents together for you and fill in any gaps you may have missed. You will probably feel a strong sense of relief knowing you were able to help your parents complete their estate planning. You should also feel satisfied you are among the families who now have this important end of life documentation accomplished.