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Broaching an Estate Planning Discussion

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2014 | Firm News

The estate planning attorneys at SMLH give some pointers on how to start a discussion about estate planning with aging parents.

No matter the family dynamic, discussing finances with aging parents is rarely easy. It is even more difficult when adult children have to broach this conversation within the context of estate planning.

However, financial planning in parents’ later years is important for both them and their children. Here are some ways to broach estate planning with aging parents without ruffling any feathers.

Don’t wait for a crisis: It is easier to talk about Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Healthcare Directives, and Trusts when parents are still relatively healthy, rather than broaching an estate planning conversation when they are hospitalized or incapacitated.

Lead by example: Of course, one way of showing aging parents the importance of estate planning is to lead by example. Adult children can start an estate planning discussion with their parents by saying that they feel so relieved to have finished their own estate plan. Sharing the personal experiences with estate planning could turn into learning and bonding experience.

Choose the right setting: A casual family get together is generally not the best time to broach pragmatic or matter-of-fact discussions. An estate planning conversation could be embarrassing or even interrupted if broached in public places such as a restaurant or mall. For others, simply scheduling time to talk about the matter may work best. Either way, choosing the right setting for an estate planning discussion can help aging parents begin to deal with their own mortality.

Listen: Parents are still parents despite their age. They appreciate being in control of their own financial situation. It is important to be respectful to their feelings when it comes to sensitive topics like estate planning. Pushing the topic is bound to make the other party push back or withdraw. It is often better to try a different approach.

Frame the topic: Adult children can broach the topic of estate planning from several angles.  Suggesting that estate planning “makes it easier on heirs” encourages parents’ maternal and paternal instincts as care providers.  Mentioning estate planning casually over the course of a few weeks can take the edge of an emotionally charged topic.

For more information about how to start an estate planning discussion with aging parents, please contact the estate planning attorneys at SMLH.