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Talking to your parents about an estate plan

Topics like funeral plans, inheritances and incapacitation are not exactly topics that families enjoy discussing. However, as our parents get older, these difficult conversations can become increasingly valuable to have.

If you have not talked to your parents about their estate plans or wishes for end-of-life care, now can be a good time to do it.

If they don’t have an estate plan

Perhaps the first detail to discuss with your parent is whether they have an estate plan in the first place. If they do not, you can steer the conversation toward why having an estate plan is important. You can also help them connect with a professional to help them put their wishes in legally enforceable documents.

It can be helpful to remind them that having an estate plan won’t just benefit them; it will benefit you and other family members as well. Without wills, advance medical directives and other planning tools, loved ones can wind up in bitter legal battles and faced with painful decisions.

If they have an estate plan

If your parents have done estate planning, you need not demand that they share the details of their plans with you.

Instead, focus on talking about the elements that affect you and other loved ones the most. For instance, you might talk about what your parents want you to do regarding funeral plans or the type of medical care they do or do not want. You might ask about who will be the person making decisions on their behalf. You can also give parents the chance to explain any unusual requests they may have.

In either case, concentrate on compassion

People can feel angry, cornered or defensive if they believe the person approaching them to talk about money and medical wishes has dishonest intentions – and rightly so. Therefore, it is crucial for adult children to come from a place of compassion.

Estate planning is a highly personal process. That said, it affects families and loved ones in ways that people do not always anticipate. Therefore, having an open and honest discussion about your parents’ plans can help everyone feel more prepared for the future.

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