Discussing estate planning with elderly parents is a sensitive conversation that you should approach with care and consideration. As loved ones age, it becomes increasingly important to talk with them and make sure you understand their wishes.
Here are some steps and tips for talking to elderly parents about estate planning.
Initiate the conversation
Begin by expressing your concern for their well-being and the importance of planning for the future. Be empathetic and show genuine interest in their wishes and needs.
Outline the benefits
Explain the advantages of estate planning, such as ensuring they are protected in the event of incapacity by making decisions regarding who will handle financial and legal matters if they can’t do so, confirming assets are distributed to beneficiaries after death as they desire, and minimizing potential conflicts among family members after they are gone. Highlighting these benefits can make the process seem less daunting.
Ask about their wishes
Encourage your parents to share their thoughts on how they want their assets distributed. This includes their home, savings, investments and any sentimental possessions. Make it clear that it is up to them, but they must make their decisions known through an estate plan.
Discuss healthcare directives
With an estimated 98 million Americans 65 and older suffering from at least one chronic disease by the year 2060, addressing your loved ones’ healthcare preferences is important. Ask if your parents have a living will or an advance medical directive for healthcare decisions. Help them understand they have the right to determine who they want to make medical choices for them if they become unable to do so, but if they fail to designate someone, someone will be chosen for them.
Organize important documents
Help your parents gather and organize their important documents such as existing wills, bank and investment statements, insurance policies and property deeds. This will facilitate the planning process and make it easier to locate important information when needed.
Be prepared to address any concerns or fears your parents may have about estate planning. These concerns may include the potential cost, complexity or family disputes. Offer reassurance and support, emphasizing that planning now can alleviate these worries later.
Review and update
Stress the importance of reviewing and updating their estate plan regularly. This is especially important if significant life changes occur, such as marriage, death, or the birth of grandchildren as well as changes in financial and health circumstances.
By working together, you can ensure your parents secure their legacy for generations to come. This can also help them feel peace of mind no matter which stage they are in life.