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How can I talk to my parents about estate planning?

No one wants to talk about the end of their life. It is an overwhelming and emotional topic of conversation, but avoiding that conversation is also what leads many people to avoid creating an estate plan in the first place.

It can be stressful for adult children to start these conversations with their parents.  Here are some tips to help children approach this topic and help their parents ensure their wishes are protected.

1. Express concern, but do not pressure your parents

Starting this conversation is not easy. And pressuring parents to create an estate plan can make them feel even more stressed – and ultimately, put off the process even longer.

It is important for children to show empathy. If children explain that they are worried about their parents, they can help their parents begin thinking about the importance of creating an estate plan.

2. Find a good time for everyone

While it is critical to avoid putting off the conversation any longer, children should still ensure they arrange a time that works for the whole family. Arranging a meeting can help to:

  • Ensure the whole family is present, with both parents and children;
  • Find a time when individuals are not stressed; and
  • Avoid taking parents by surprise.

It is important to remember that this is not a one-time conversation – this is only the start.

3. Stay focused on your parents but assure them they are not alone

One of the most common reasons that individuals put off estate planning is that they do not understand how to start. There are several estate planning documents that individuals can use to protect their family and estate – but all of that information can be overwhelming.

During the conversation, it can help if individuals:

  • Ask their parents about their wishes for their future and family;
  • Ask what kind of long-term care they would like to receive – and any care they would not like; and
  • Ask who they trust to handle any financial or medical matters for them if they cannot speak for themselves.

It is not necessary to address specific details immediately. Parents can do that when they begin the process and work with an estate planning attorney. However, asking these questions and taking notes can help give parents a starting point to establish an effective estate plan. For help starting the process, please contact our estate planning attorney, Michelle Smith, at 973-661-0710.

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