Discussing estate planning with your parents might feel like a difficult task, but it is an important one for you both to complete. Having a clear plan in place helps them feel at peace and know that people will respect their wishes and manage their assets well.
Being able to start a conversation about estate planning is an important skill to have.
Select a good time and place
Pick a comfortable and quiet environment where everyone can talk openly without distractions. Finding a moment when everyone feels relaxed and free from stress can help create a respectful atmosphere for this serious discussion.
Use open-ended questions
Start the conversation by asking questions that encourage your parents to share their thoughts and concerns about the future. Open-ended questions can lead to a more natural and less intimidating discussion. Since only about 33% of Americans have a settled estate plan, it can help them to talk openly and think seriously about what they want.
Highlight the benefits
Discuss the advantages of having a plan in place. Mention how it can provide clarity and reduce conflicts among family members in the future. This can help the conversation stay positive.
Bring up specifics
Once the conversation is partway through, bring up specific topics related to estate planning, such as wills, beneficiaries and medical directives. Ask if they have thought about these aspects and if they have any wishes they would like to express.
Talk about support
Let your parents know that you are there to support them throughout the process. Offer to assist with organizing documents or researching options, if they are open to it.
Suggest professional help
If you think that your parents may benefit from talking to a professional rather than just yourself, bring up the idea. Gently suggest the idea of seeking professional guidance to make sure people write down their wishes and manage them properly.
Discussing estate planning with your aging parents is a thoughtful and caring step that shows your concern for their future well-being. By approaching the conversation with sensitivity and respect, you can make sure everyone involved knows their wishes.