How to Talk to Your Parents about Their Estate Plan

As we gear up for the Fourth of July holiday, we find ourselves around our families once again.  This may be a good opportunity to engage in a vital discussion with your loved ones about estate planning, particularly with your parents and grandparents. While the thought might initially seem awkward or perhaps like you are inviting yourself into business that is not exactly yours, the reality is that without a planned estate, you may need months or years of time to wind up their affairs after they’re gone.  These moments of togetherness are invaluable for ensuring security and peace of mind for your family.

Even if they haven’t yet created an estate plan, it’s never too late to start the process.

Here are a few ways to initiate the conversation gently:

1. First, do a little recon.  You can check to see if your parents or grandparents have a revocable trust by looking at the deed to their home. These can usually be accessed online through your county clerk’s office   If the home is held in trust, that’s a pretty good indication they’ve done some planning. 

2. Ask if they’ve completed health and financial directives.  These documents are crucial for understanding their wishes in case they’re unable to communicate.  If they haven’t, this may be the opportunity to have a deeper discussion about estate planning with them. 

3. It’s no secret that healthcare costs are a huge driver in how retirement savings are managed.  Be sure to inquire about Long Term Care Insurance (and Short-Term Care Insurance if available) to get a clear understanding of what triggers the benefits, and any other requirements to the benefits. This ensures preparedness in case of short-term or long-term illnesses and whether financial assistance might be needed.

4. When discussing their estate plans, prioritize topics like healthcare preferences, incapacity planning, and the welfare of the surviving spouse.  DO NOT focus on the division of their property or assets, unless there is a family property that will be difficult to manage without direction, or a difficult family relationship that has the potential to sour further without careful planning. 

5.  Lastly, it’s crucial to pay attention to your mother’s involvement in financial and legal matters. Given statistics indicating that fathers often pass away before mothers, ensuring that both parents are equally informed and prepared is paramount.  Also, remember that learning how to manage complex financial transactions at a later stage in life is very stressful and can inadvertently produce unpleasant feelings of inadequacy.  Patience, support, and reassurance is key in these instances. 

Secure Your Parents and grandparents Future

By emphasizing personalized estate planning, you not only secure your parents’ future but also pave the way for other family members to follow suit. Utilizing our tools and experience at Marlyn Schulz, Attorney at Law, ensures all considerations of legal obligations are met. By setting up a Trust if necessary, we ensure the privacy, and timeliness of follow-through on your parents’ wishes for their legacy. Remember, estate planning is a necessity for everyone, including your parents. So, take advantage of the summertime holidays and travel to have a conversation that can bring long-term peace of mind to your entire family.

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