Parents and adult children should have estate planning conversations.
Communication is important in all areas of life.
Both work and relationships suffer from a lack of good communication.
Some dialogues are relatively simple to approach while others can trigger tension and anxiety.
When the latter is true, people tend to avoid conversations.
According to a recent MarketWatch article titled “It’s easy to put it off, but here’s why you should talk to your parents about estate planning, and how to start the conversation,” estate planing tends to be a frequently avoided topic.
Few people want to think about their own mortality or the future potential incapacity and eventual death of their loved ones.
Unfortunately, ignoring these uncomfortable topics tends to heighten the negative impact of incapacity and death.
Those who are left behind must navigate numerous obstacles while grieving and may be left with significant expenses if their loved ones failed to create an estate plan and communicate their wishes.
For this reason, it can be helpful to initiate a conversation with your parents about whether they have an estate plan and to encourage them to inventory their belongings and assets.
Important questions to guide your conversations include asking about preferences for medical care and primary caregivers, payment for health care expenses, who should make medical decisions in the event of incapacity, who should handle the property after death, what special instructions exist for specific items, and how to access important documents and digital records.
Without a last will and testament in place, the estate of your parents will be distributed through probate under intestacy laws.
This can be both long and expensive.
With a last will and testament in place, the estate of your parents will still pass through probate but will be far more smooth.
When having conversations with your parents, you should ensure they have both a last will and testament and also have beneficiary designations updated on their accounts.
Perhaps avoiding probate completely makes the most sense to them.
If so, then a “fully funded” revocable living should be considered.
As Benjamin Franklin observed, “there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.”
While it may be impossible to avoid all taxes, when it comes to the transfer of assets, steps can be taken to minimize liability.
Encourage your parents to have conversations with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a plan to reduce the taxes on their estate.
Reference: MarketWatch (Dec. 29, 2021) “It’s easy to put it off, but here’s why you should talk to your parents about estate planning, and how to start the conversation”