Did you know that the vast majority of parents who have had detailed conversations about their estate planning with their adult children admit to feeling more at ease regarding their own peace of mind?
Speaking about estate planning with your parents may seem inappropriate, and it’s tempting to avoid the issue because it brings out so many emotions. But if you choose the right moment to address it, you will avoid conflicts down the road and will allay the concerns of your parents and the whole family.
Here are our tips to make it easier to broach this delicate subject.
Preparation is key
Before the conversation: be clear about what you hope to achieve. This can help your parents see the importance of taking action in a timely manner so that their wishes are understood and respected in the event of an early death.
Pick the right time for this conversation. Don’t wait until one of your parents is sick, as the discussion could be more emotional. Choose a more opportune moment, like when they’re downsizing or moving into a retirement home.
Where to have the discussion is also important—a comfortable, welcoming setting, like the family home, would be better than a noisy place with lots of distractions.
Let the other heirs know about the conversation. It’s also recommended that you include just the immediate family in the discussion, not the spouses.
During the conversation: address concerns, confirm your parents’ wishes for the estate and ensure there is coverage for the assets they want to bequeath in the future. This is not the time or the place to argue about what you will be getting or to right past wrongs. Remember, the goal of the conversation is to ease the financial and emotional burden surrounding their end-of-life decisions.
Lead by example—talk to your parents about what you’ve done regarding your own estate planning. This will make them more open to listening. You should make your intentions clear, informing your parents that your goal is to distribute their inheritance based on their wishes when the time comes.
Keep the conversation casual; speak honestly. Asking questions is helpful: “If ever…?”, etc. Cover the following topics: their sources of income, their mortgage or personal loan balances, investments, types of insurance they have, and whether or not they have a will and/or power of attorney. Also be sure to find out where these important documents are filed.
No need to rush
After the conversation: give your parents time and don’t push them into making hasty decisions. It’s generally unrealistic to think that all your estate planning questions will be addressed in one sitting, so line up other times to be able to continue the conversation. Expect to cover a little bit at a time. And ensure you take notes each time you speak.
Need help or advice?
If you think your parents weren’t comfortable discussing this topic with you or you find it’s not an easy subject to address, consider reaching out to a financial security advisor or notary to help your family work through it all. These specialists will confidentially and transparently review your parents’ estate planning, wealth protection and life insurance needs.