How to Get Your Aging Parents to Talk about and Do Their Estate Planning
As a Gen X kid with Baby Boomer parents, I have found that our generations have very different ideas when it comes to talking about death and money. Boomers often seem averse to discussing these matters, for many reasons. Sometimes they think it’s crass for their kids to be asking them about what they’re “getting.” Sometimes they feel shame about discussing money and death. Sometimes they were just raised to believe that discussion about money and death (like religion and politics) is impolite. Whatever the reasons your aging parents might have for being tough to crack when it comes to these discussions, I have some tips on how to get them to talk and do their estate planning.
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To be clear, you want your aging parents to create a comprehensive estate plan with a lawyer, you want that plan to cover both death and incapacity, and you want to know what that plan is, who is named in any fiduciary roles, what assets they have, and what their wishes are with regard to their assets and end-of-life care. Having those goals in mind, here are some tips:
1. Tell them estate planning stories that sparked your interest.
You’re probably at an age where you’re more frequently hearing estate planning stories. If any of these make you think of your parents and their estate plan, it’s good to share that with them. I’ve shared stories with my parents about families fighting over assets and healthcare decisions, families having to spend everything they own to pay for long-term care, families having to go through lengthy and expensive probate processes, and more. Stories are a great way to get people thinking and talking.
2. Share estate planning articles with them.
From time to time, you might come across estate planning articles that are applicable to them, and you should share those with them. It helps them to learn that this is an important issue that a lot of people are concerned about and it’s a good way to give them tips. You can even Google for estate planning articles and pick ones that seem applicable. There are all sorts of estate planning articles (on this site, even!) that tell people the documents they should have, the pitfalls they should avoid, and the success stories people have had through estate planning.
3. Do your own estate planning.
My favorite way for people to get their parents talking about estate planning is to do your own estate planning and then talk to your parents about it. During the process of creating your own plan, you will become educated about what your planning does, and you’ll be able to ask better questions about your parents’ estate and what their plan entails or should entail. Having gone through the process yourself, you’ll be able to describe what it was like and how you feel now that it’s done. Plus, if they’re named in any capacity or have any interest in it, such as wanting to ensure they’d have visitation with grandchildren, you’ll need to talk to them anyway.
If you want to get started on your estate plan, read about our estate planning services and schedule an appointment.
To your family's health + happiness.
~Candice N. Aiston
P.S. Want to get started slowly but surely, naming guardians for your kids? Check out our Guardian Plan kit.
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Candice N. Aiston is an Legal Planning Attorney for Estates + Businesses in the Portland, Oregon area. She helps people to prepare for a lifetime of security, prosperity, and guidance. If you would like to receive her free reports, please visit http://aistonlaw.com/ to sign up. Follow her Facebook page for daily planning tips: https://www.facebook.com/aistonlaw/.