Regardless of the circumstances, talking to your parents about estate planning is a challenge on many fronts. However, if you feel that this is an important conversation to have, it’s critical that you sit down together as soon as possible.
Here are some tips you can follow to reduce the tension often associated with this conversation:
- Focus on your parents’ needs, not your own: If you neglect to do this, it may appear that you’re having the conversation because you’re hoping to get something out of it. Don’t take this approach. Everything you talk about should focus on your parents and their needs. For example, having their powers of attorney designations in place is important for their future security as they age.
- Offer to help: For example, if your parents have a question about a particular part of their estate plan, offer to provide advice or connect them with a legal professional who can guide them. If mobility is an issue for your parents, offer to provide transportation when they need to speak with their advocate.
- Involve your siblings: Your parents may shy away from talking to you about estate planning alone if you have other siblings, as they don’t want them to feel left out. This is a reasonable concern, so don’t hesitate to involve your siblings in all your conversations. This goes a long way in ensuring that everyone is on the same page, both now and in the future.
There’s no one size fits all solution to talking to your parents about estate planning and related subject matter. It takes patience, honesty and respect to make real progress. Fortunately, once your parents open up to you, you can get a beat for what they’ve done, what they want to accomplish in the future and where you can step in to provide assistance — without stepping on their toes.