Talking to Your Parents About Estate Planning
Fifty-two percent of older Americans do not have a financial power of attorney in place, which is why it’s important to speak to your parents about estate planning. Before you have the conversation, there are things you need to know to make the process go smoother. Managing them and the process is every bit as important as the decisions that you reach.
This Is Not an Easy Topic
No matter their age, your parents may be hesitant to speak about estate planning because it reminds them of their own mortality. Even if the conversation is difficult, it is one that must be had. You should go into the talk with a recognition that this is not an easy topic for them.
The first thing that you need to bring to this conversation is patience and plenty of it. Beyond a possible refusal to talk about the issue, you can expect some difficulty. It may take several attempts to begin the conversation and make progress. Be prepared for an ongoing effort and to reach the ultimate estate plan after much back-and-forth.
Next, you make sure that you are prepared for the conversation. If you are the one sitting your parents down, you should come with a list of topics to address as part of the estate plan. Moreover, you would also bring different options for them within each of the areas of conversation. It is vital that you would have already done your homework in order to guide the conversation.
One idea would be to sit down with an estate planning lawyer before you approach your parents. This would give you ideas to discuss and put you in a position where you can suggest a possible plan. Unless you already had a power of attorney, the final decision would belong to your parents. While you should be prepared to help guide them, you are presenting ideas for their consideration.
Keep Others in the Loop
Estate planning is an area that can cause tension within a family and lead to litigation. This is especially true because one key aspect of estate planning involves money. Beyond that, other family members may think that you are trying to have undue influence on your parents.
When you are discussing estate planning, the key is to be transparent with other family members. Either include them in the conversation or make sure that you keep them abreast of what is happening at all time. The worst thing is that your family feels that there is an information vacuum. Then, they would assume the worst, and family tension would escalate.
Along with being patient, you should approach the conversation in a spirit of understanding. This means that you should not try to pressure your parents about any decisions that they need to make. You could certainly raise suggestions and talk things out with your parents, but applying pressure may be counterproductive. You should let them arrive at decisions on their own after they have considered everything that you have discussed.
This is not an easy conversation. Empathy is important in this situation: These choices are tough. Nobody likes to think about things after they are gone.
Hear Your Parents Out
You will probably have your own ideas about what your parents should do, but they may also have their own thoughts. They are also a part of this deliberation. If they want things a certain way, you should let them explain why. Try to make any decisions in coordination and collaboration with them. After all, you are all partners in the estate planning process.
To get prepared for the process, contact a Hackensack, NJ, estate planning lawyer at the Knee Law Firm. Call us at (201) 996-1200, and we can work with you on an estate plan and help you put it into place. Hopefully, that will give you not just peace of mind but a plan of action.