Most people want to avoid the morbid conversation around death, especially when it refers to your loved one’s demise. But when it comes to speaking to your parents about their estate will ensure all parties are clear on where they stand and can help your parents feel secure and that their property will be safe once they’re gone. It will also ensure your parents wishes are respected and state law won’t come into play.
Once you understand the consequences of not having those conversations, the next question is how do you raise the issue with your parents? There are a number of different approaches, though no particular one is necessarily better than any other. The following are some key ideas to keep in mind if you want to have this conversation with your parents.
- Let the conversation happen naturally. Your parents may be uncomfortable with speaking on this topic so always respect their wishes. You do not want to push the subject as it may seem as though you have alternative motives and your parents may feel hesitant to have this conversation in the future.
- Be honest about your motives. Be honest about the concerns you are worried about once your parents pass away. Perhaps it is financial or maybe it will address a difficult family situation. These conversations are important to ensure your parents plan their estate accordingly.
Also, it is essential to have all the necessary parties, such as siblings, stepchildren, new spouses, and former spouses, involved. As your parents embark on these conversations, let them know that you support them.
- Ask your parents what their wishes are. Find out what your parents want and hope for with regard to estate planning. Do not make assumptions. Be direct and ask them what their ideal situation is. Also doing this when all parties are healthy will ensure no hasty decisions are made.
- Discuss the planning already in place. If your parents are older or have health concerns, then they probably already have begun the process of estate planning. These plans may change overtime, so it is okay to ask your parents to keep you updated. Also ensure these documents are in order:
- past wills
- past trust documents
- powers of attorney
- HIPAA authorization forms
- insurance policy and retirement plan beneficiary designations
- Include benefits to their children and grandchildren. Finally, addressing how your parents will build their legacy through their children (you and your siblings) and grandchildren is critical. A common sentiment among grandparents is that grandchildren are their reward for not letting their children drive them crazy, so they often have a significant desire to provide special allocations for their grandchildren. Explore how your parents want their money and property distributed and whether your childless siblings will receive less. Again, navigating this area requires great tact and wisdom.
If you feel overwhelmed by the steps discussed above and you would like a neutral party to help facilitate the conversation and provide guidance regarding how the estate planning system works, our lawyers at Music City Estate in Franklin, TN are available to help. Call our office to schedule a virtual meeting to begin the process.