It’s all too common for people to put off estate planning – even when they’re in their senior years. If you have parents who have still not done this, you may be getting anxious about them not having any estate planning documents in place and wondering what you can do to convince them to take that step.
Let’s look at a couple of things to remember as you broach this sensitive subject.
Don’t focus on the inheritance
Leaving assets to heirs and other beneficiaries is just one part of a complete estate plan. If you concentrate on that, your parents may think you’re only interested in getting your fair share. There are other important documents, like advance directives and powers of attorney for health care and finances. If you have a widowed or divorced parent, these are particularly important, because they determine who will make decisions for them if they’re incapacitated.
End-of-life choices are typically part of an advance directive for health care. Your parent might think just telling you what kind of measures they do or don’t want is enough. But what if they say different things at different times or tell you one thing and your sibling something else? Having it codified can prevent difficult family battles.
If you have siblings, talk to your parents together
If you’re the only one concerned about your parents’ lack of estate planning and the only one talking to them about it, they (and/or your siblings) might think you’re trying to get an upper hand. That’s one reason it’s generally best for everyone to be involved in the conversation.
Just be careful not to “gang up” on them. Any discussion may need to be done over the course of several (or more) talks. It’s important to be patient. After all, you’re talking about their eventual incapacitation or death.
If you have examples of instances when other family members died without even a will or maybe you found multiple wills tucked away throughout their home and safe deposit boxes (or you know of friends or co-workers this happened to), this might help them see that they’re doing this in part to help save you and those they love time, money and stress.
You might want to seek legal guidance before you talk to your parents or be prepared to recommend an experienced attorney who can help them. Knowing that they can have professional assistance may help provide them with reassurance.