No one wants to confront their own mortality, and discussions about what happens after your death can be very uncomfortable. Given that you love and respect your parents, you may not want to bring up an unpleasant and difficult topic, but you may have concerns about their plans.
If you don’t know what kind of estate plan your parents have or if they have one at all, you may recognize that you need to talk about this matter with them. How can you broach this complex and emotional topic without making your parents feel defensive or resistant to your suggestions?
Talk about the potential effects on you and your siblings
People often think that estate planning isn’t necessary once their children reach adulthood or when they don’t have very much property to their names. They may not stop to think about the family fights and the probate delays that can occur during estate administration when they don’t have clear documents on record.
If you discuss what you have seen friends or coworkers go through after the death of parents, including bitter disputes in court that destroy families or the loss of valuable property to probate costs, your parents may see how their lack of a plan could affect you and their other children. They could also want to take action to prevent state law from dictating who inherits their assets.
Discuss their future needs
Estate planning isn’t just about death and inheritance rights. It can also be about medical care and protection from creditor lawsuits when living on a fixed income during retirement. Early planning can help someone qualify for Medicaid if they need to move into a nursing home. It can protect assets from creditor lawsuits later in life or from estate claims after someone dies.
Good estate plans with advance directives and powers of attorney could also protect your parents from an involuntary guardianship. They can name other people to handle their financial and medical matters on their behalf and provide clear instructions about their wishes.
Instead of becoming accusatory or making your parents feel like they have somehow failed you by not creating an estate plan, it is usually a better approach to talk about how they have an opportunity to do so now and to focus on the benefits of taking control. Helping your parents make the important choice to create an estate plan will protect them and the rest of your family in the future.