The best time to have this conversation is today. If you’re unsure how to broach the subject, you might ask a trusted family friend to help you navigate the conversation with compassion.
JP Morgan’s recent article, “How to talk to loved ones about estate planning,” says that if your loved ones have already started this process, ask which documents they have and see if any need to be updated. You may need to consult an experienced estate planning attorney to see what’s required.
Discussing estate planning with aging parents can be challenging, since both sides may hesitate to broach tricky topics involving end-of-life care and related decisions. However, the probate process becomes much more difficult if your parent dies without an estate plan.
Delaying this conversation won’t make it any easier. It’s important to stay calm and address the topics gently and openly. You may have to initiate a conversation several times before your mom or dad is willing to open up—another reason to broach the topic sooner.
If you’re having difficulty getting through to them, you could bring in another family member or a trusted family friend who can help you approach this conversation with the needed compassion. You may also consult an estate planning attorney to help plan and frame the conversation itself.
If your parents haven’t started planning their estate yet, think about some of the critical matters you want to discuss, like health issues, medical insurance, help with making decisions in case of incapacity, help to pay bills and keeping finances in order.
You should also ask about a plan if they need help managing daily tasks like walking, dressing, preparing meals and bathing.
Decision-making can also become a challenge for some as they get older. Therefore, having a valid power of attorney, living will and health care proxy is critical.
As tough as this can be, you must ask these questions when helping your parents plan their estate and future.
Reference: JP Morgan (April 26, 2023) “How to talk to loved ones about estate planning”