The Covid-19 pandemic has set the need for an estate plan in sharp relief for adults nationwide. This past year has taught all of us that tomorrow cannot be taken for granted, leading to an increasing number of people to plan and many more to recognize the need to speak to parents about doing the same. If you are an adult child trying to figure out how to talk to your aging mother or father about estate planning, let the following five tips serve as a guide.
1. Don’t Delay
Estate planning is easier when time is on your side. Should you wait until your parents are no longer healthy, not only does planning become more complex but the legal tools at your disposal decrease or are eliminated altogether.
2. Start the Conversation Off Right
Getting the conversation off on the right foot is essential. Some may find that segueing from a news article is a good way to start. Others might prefer to frame the issue as though they are asking for advice by explaining that they are worried about being left without direction when the time comes to administer their parents’ estate. Others still might draw on the story of a grandparent or deceased aunt or uncle as a means of raising the subject.
3. Involve the Whole Family
Complications are the last thing you want to come of bringing up estate planning which is why it is important to make the conversation a family affair. Let your siblings know of your intentions to talk to your folks and loop in any other concerned parties. Make it clear that your goal is to lessen the burden of addressing such decisions and to ensure the matter is well-handled in the interest of everyone’s peace of mind.
4. Get Organized
Estate planning involves more than just executing a will (though this is essential). Signing medical and financial powers of attorney are also a part of the process as is considering the need for a trust. It is not your job to provide advice on what should go into these different documents but it is important to ensure each is talked about. Over the course of your conversation (or conversations), you not only want to touch on asset distribution, but determine who will take on the role of executor and how financial and healthcare-related decisions will be made on your parents’ behalf should the need arise.
5. Be Patient
There is a lot to talk about and even more to digest where estate planning is concerned. Recognize that the subject is likely to provoke strong feelings for both you and your parents and don’t expect to get through everything in a single sitting. After all, the process not only requires careful thought, but complex emotional management, too.
An experienced estate planning attorney is an invaluable resource for ensuring the success of your conversation. Beyond attending to all necessary legal documents, they will also suggest important topics of conversation you may not have considered.
If you are ready to talk to your aging parents about the need for an estate plan or if you want to begin the process, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation at the Hailey-Petty Law Firm. We can be reached by phone at (512) 910-8977 in Austin, (210) 570-2458 in San Antonio, or via the contact form on our website.