Many individuals with older parents likely know they need to have a conversation about estate planning. Older parents often have valuable assets they have built up over the years like a house, cars, investment properties, brokerage or retirement accounts. But discussing these issues with elderly parents isn’t necessarily easy.
What is the best way to have an estate planning conversation?
The easiest way to talk about estate planning with your parents is to keep the initial conversation as broad as possible. Instead of asking your parents if they have considered creating a will or other estate planning document, you may want to simply ask about their long-term goals in a general context.
Asking questions about whether you parents would want to stay in their home or enter a care facility in the event they may no longer independently care for themselves may be one approach. Perhaps, you could have a discussion about a family heirloom and who they might want to give it to in the future.
It is important to try and refrain any projecting your beliefs or desires on them. Instead, try to keep the conversation open-ended. Listen to what they want and make suggestions based on what they tell you.
If the conversation does happen to turn to estate planning, you may then want to suggest a basic will to get started. Perhaps they have a beloved dog or cat that they want taken care of in a specific way.
There are many ways to broach the topic of estate planning with elderly parents without being aggressive or forceful. It’s not easy; many people simply do not want to talk about their own demise and this is understandable.
But documenting wishes in writing prevents others from making decisions on their behalf that could likely be contrary to what they may want.