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How to Discuss Estate Planning with Your Aging Parents

July 10, 2024 • | Curran Estate & Elder Law, PLLC
Discussing estate planning with your aging parents is vital to protect their wishes. It can be a hard conversation to start. However, it’s still necessary.

Estate planning is essential to protect your parents’ assets and wishes. Proper estate planning can spare you and your loved ones extra stress while you process their passing. However, discussing estate planning can be uncomfortable for everyone involved. Take a compassionate, thoughtful approach to having a conversation that benefits everyone.

When Should You Talk to Your Parents about Estate Planning?

According to Thrivent, the best time to talk to your parents about estate planning is sooner rather than later. When your parents are relaxed and receptive, starting a conversation about documents needed in the event they are unable to make financial or healthcare decisions for themselves and their passing is easier. If you wait until a crisis, you will have to navigate the emotional burdens your parents are already suffering. Be proactive and discuss estate planning with your parents, when possible, not when necessary.

How to Start the Conversation

Before bringing up the topic, organize your thoughts and consider who needs to join the conversation. Involve your siblings or other close family members and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Emphasize that the conversation is about supporting your parents. Put their wishes first and foremost, rather than centering on anyone’s personal gain.  Possibly mention that you yourself are looking into doing your own estate planning, so they do not feel it is due to their age or infirmity.

What Estate Planning Topics Should I Discuss with My Parents?

  • Wills: Ask your parents if they have a Will and if it is up to date. A Will outlines how they want their assets distributed upon their deaths and names an Executor to handle the document's provisions.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: Discuss the importance of a financial power of attorney. This way, your parents have someone to handle financial issues if they are unable to do so themselves.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: By setting up a Healthcare Power of Attorney, your parents can choose someone to make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to make those decisions themselves.
  • Living Will: A living will dictates end-of-life care preferences, including options such as feeding tubes, respirators, brain damage/brain disease and organ donation.
  • Trusts: Explain the benefits of setting up a trust. A trust can manage assets during and after their lifetime. This can protect them from fraud and abuse and reduce the tax burden on their estate.  A trust can also be a tool to preserve assets in the event of a health decline that may lead to skilled nursing care.
  • Beneficiaries: Ensure that your parents have up-to-date beneficiary designations on their accounts and life insurance policies.
  • Burial Decisions: Discuss any pre-planned funeral arrangements or burial plots they might want to purchase in advance.

Reflecting on the Next Step

If your parents have already started estate planning, this conversation can help clarify their plans and address any gaps. By approaching the topic with compassion and patience, you can help them take important steps toward securing their future.

Don’t Leave It Up to Chance

Estate planning is crucial for protecting your aging parents' wishes and ensuring peace of mind for the whole family. To learn more or to start creating a plan, request a consultation with our experienced estate planning attorneys at Curran Estate & Elder Law in Berks County, Pennsylvania, today.

Key Takeaways

  • Set Clear Intentions: Make it clear that your goal is to support your parents and ensure that their wishes are followed.
  • Explain the Benefits: Highlight how estate planning protects their legacy and reduces future stress for the family.
  • Listen Actively: Give your parents space to share their thoughts and feelings. Respect their decisions and pace.
  • Offer Help: Assist with finding an attorney specializing in this area of law.

Reference: Тhrivent (Jul. 25, 2023) "How to Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning With Compassion | Thrivent

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