Talking to Your Parents About Estate Planning from a Distance

Talking to Your Parents About Estate Planning from a Distance

People say that nothing is guaranteed except for death and taxes. Avoiding talking about these subjects is a common occurrence, but failure to plan for one’s death can create serious stress for family and loved ones. Without a Will, Trust, or other instructions outlining how assets and personal property should be distributed, the assets and personal personal property may be tied up in probate court proceeds for many months, if not years. Probate can be expensive, and it is a matter of public record, so the records of the court proceedings are available to anyone who looks for them. If you’re hoping to avoid probate after the death of your parents, you should consider having a conversation about estate planning with them.

While the conversation with your parents may be difficult, it’s important to be on the same page about estate and long-term care planning. Whether they live down the street or across the country, discussing financial and healthcare needs, end-of-life care needs, funeral plans, inheritance structure, and other estate planning issues. All too often, people pass away without a Will or Trust, or they may become incapacitated without leaving behind any living will or advanced care directive. Not having the conversation so these issues are lined out can cause unnecessary stress for a grieving family. Having the directions in writing can provide great relief by providing the pathway forward.

The next time you’re talking with your loved ones, consider asking about their estate plans. Do your parents have a Will or Trust? Have they named beneficiaries on their accounts? Did they select an Executor for their estate or Trustee for their Trust? Even if your parents don’t have answers to all of these questions, it’s a good way to get the conversation started. Encourage them to seek out an estate planning attorney to help them create appropriate living wills, Trust(s) and durable financial and health care powers of attorney which are customized to their specific needs.

The estate planning conversation with parents shouldn’t just revolve around their assets, personal property, or inheritance. Consider also speaking openly with them about preferences for life-saving resuscitation, organ donation, and other anatomical gifts. While these types of conversations can be very productive, they are never easy. Empathy and patience can help ease tensions and help the participants become more comfortable with discussing sensitive subjects. When appropriate, encourage your parents to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure their needs are met, and that their wishes will be respected.

We encourage you to not delay speaking with your parents about their estate and end-of-life planning. Understanding their wishes while they’re still healthy can ease everyone’s stress and anxiety surrounding the eventual transition to end-of-life situations. To schedule a consultation with an estate planning professional, please call us today. 501.221.7776.

Leave a Comment