Spiro J. Verras Blog

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Discussing Estate Planning with Your Parents

How should I bring up the topic of estate planning with my aging parents?

The topic of estate planning can be a delicate one. Fewer than half of all Americans have an estate plan and many shy away from discussions of this morbid but critical issue. For adults with aging parents, it is absolutely essential that you have a conversation about your parent’s wishes for after their death. However, starting off the discussion can be daunting. Our Tampa estate planning lawyer offers some tips on how to talk about estate planning with your parents in a tactful yet effective manner below.

Prepare for the Discussion

If you suddenly bring up the topic of estate planning in the middle of a family dinner, you may leave your parents feeling unprepared and perhaps even upset. It is best to prepare to have a talk with your parents about their estate plan. Let them know that you would like to meet to discuss their estate plan. Choose a private and relaxing place.

You will want to come as prepared as possible. Anticipate that your parents might want some information to help them should they not yet have an estate plan. Consider printing off some articles about the essential components of an estate plan and perhaps a list of possible estate planning lawyers in your area.

Listen and Provide Input as Needed

As the discussion begins, it might be tempting to jump in with your opinion and advice. Avoid this impulse and first just listen. Take notes as your parents talk about their wishes for their funeral and belongings after their death. Write down important information you will need, like your parent’s bank information, utility account numbers, online login information, and the like.

Even if you disagree with some of your parent’s decisions concerning their distribution of assets, avoid being forceful or argumentative. Remember your parents are adults and deserve to be treated as such. Exceptions may exist if you believe your parent is suffering from a cognitive disorder that makes you question the soundness of their decisions. In this case, it will be vital that you seek the help of a competent estate planning attorney who can walk you through the steps of assisting your parent in making a rational estate plan.

When your parents seek your input, provide it in a reasoned and calm manner. As you formulate an estate plan with your parents, it will then become time to bring in an estate planning lawyer who can carry out your parent’s wishes. Estate planning does not have to be contentious or stressful. With the right approach, your parents can express their end of life desires and you can be sure their last wishes are honored.

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