It’s probably difficult to talk to your parents about a lot of things – no matter your age. But it’s probably most difficult to talk about them dying. You don’t want to think about it, and they definitely don’t want to think about it. You’re stuck in a standstill, trying to figure out how to discuss what will happen after their death without making everyone upset.
As your parents grow older, the necessity of having a plan in place grows more important. A 2021 survey found that while around two-thirds of Americans believe having a will is important, only around one-third have actually created one. The survey also found that lack of understanding around how to create a will has increased by 90% since 2017.
When should I talk to my parents?
The sooner, the better. It might be uncomfortable to broach the subject. But the earlier you discuss estate planning with your parents, the better off your parents – and ultimately, the family they’re leaving behind – will be. Your parents could be among the majority of folks who have yet to tackle the issue of will and estate planning – and may not know how to get started. An informative conversation may help to get the ball rolling.
How should I approach the subject?
Instead of being confrontational about it, take a gentler approach. Do some research on your own beforehand about the benefits of estate planning. This may include protecting your parents’ assets and family wealth, ensuring everything is distributed according to their wishes and minimizing transfer taxes. Use these as positive reinforcements for why your parents should consider taking the time to consult with an attorney to either draft or update their will.
Respect their privacy
Many people do not feel comfortable discussing their finances with their children. Your parents might not be ready to talk about their estate with you. They may not even know what they want to do with their assets. Reassure them that this is okay, and let them know that they have the ultimate decision – despite any of your suggestions. Putting them in touch with an estate-planning professional who can guide them through the process may be useful.
Estate planning is something that’s easy to put off. But when the unexpected happens and plans are not in place, it can have devastating impacts on a family. Ensuring that the family will be protected no matter what the future holds can give everyone peace of mind.