Discussing estate planning with your parents cannot wait.
Your parents have assets.
They own a home.
They have a retirement account.
They have life insurance.
They do not want to talk about estate planning.
According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “How to Get a Loved One to Visit an Estate Planning Attorney Before It’s Too Late,” folks like your parents often delay estate planning until it is too late.
People delay estate planning for a variety of reasons.
For some, the thought of death is unpleasant and easy to avoid.
For others, the cost (or what they “imagine” to be cost) of a plan intimidates them.
Unfortunately, the financial and emotional cost of not having an estate plan is far greater.
It robs them of estate planning “peace of mind” in the present.
How do you discuss estate planning with your loved ones?
Start by contacting the financial professionals who your loved ones employ and trust.
This could include a financial advisor or a CPA.
Ask them for a recommendation or referral to an estate planning attorney.
Receiving this advice from a professional may be more palatable from an independent advisor than from an adult child.
Each has a reliable rating system to help evaluate attorneys, as well as actual client reviews.
Hint: even if a trusted advisor refers your parents to any estate planning attorneys, first vett the attorney on both of the online attorney directories.
You can confirm whether their practice focus on limited to estate planning, their ratings and reviews, and whether they have ever been disciplined by a state attorney disciplinary administrator!
In short, seek to make the experience as comfortable as possible for your loved ones.
If your loved ones will feel more comfortable discussing their wishes and values with an estate planning attorney when you are present, offer to attend the meeting or join via video call.
Experienced estate planning attorneys will know how to facilitate these hard conversations in a way that is informative, pleasant, and productive.
What should you do if your loved ones do not currently work with any trusted professionals?
You may want to start by sharing your own estate planning experience.
Do not be forceful when discussing estate planning.
Doing so often stirs up defensive reactions.
Focus more on the importance of medical decisions than the finances.
You do not want to focus only on money or your inheritance.
Talking about the negative impacts of not having an estate plan in place can help your loves one recognize what is at stake.
What should you do if they have an out-of-date estate plan?
Part of discussion estate planning with your loved ones is learning whether their legal documents are current.
If your parent has been divorced or remarried, neglecting changes can be especially dicey.
They likely do not want an ex-spouse to inherit or a former son-in-law to make medical decisions.
Discussing estate planning concerns and consequences like these is not pleasant, but it is essential.
Reference: Kiplinger (May 11, 2020) “How to Get a Loved One to Visit an Estate Planning Attorney Before It’s Too Late”