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How to talk to your parents about estate planning

You know how important estate planning is. That’s why you’ve tried to encourage your parents to get more serious about things like wills, trusts, powers of attorney and things like that. Having an estate plan is important not only so they receive the care they desire and that their property goes to the proper places after their death, but to spare you and your family added stress and potential conflict.

People postpone these conversations for many reasons, including the potential for awkward or uncomfortable conversations. Yet, it’s important to push through the discomfort and have a productive conversation about estate planning. If you need help getting started, here are few strategies to get started:

  • Figure out who should be involved. Are you an only child? If not, experts suggest inviting your siblings to keep the process transparent and ensure the whole family is on the same page. You may also wish to invite an attorney as conversations became more serious and your parents’ wishes become more defined.
  • Listen first, speak second. Remember, this conversation is about your parents. That means that listening to their desires and concerns should come first. It’s often a good idea to bring a notepad to these discussions so that you don’t misremember or forget something entirely. Keep in mind that this is likely a difficult conversation, so a caring and empathetic ear may lead to a more productive conversation.
  • Don’t wait until it’s too late. The estate planning conversation one is an easy one to put off until the “right time.” However, there is seldom a perfect time to discuss these things. It’s important to make time to have a distraction free and uninterrupted conversation with your parents about their wishes. If your parents become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves, it may be too late.

You can make a difference

Just think. If you don’t have these conversations with your parents, who will? There are few people better suited to have the estate planning conversation with than you, their child. By taking a caring approach, they may be more likely to see that you want to help rather than think you only care about your inheritance. Because estate planning is more than inheritance; it’s about taking care of the family, and that means leaving them a plan after their death.

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