As parents age, it becomes increasingly important to engage in open conversations about estate planning. While it may seem like a daunting topic, discussing these matters can help them manage their assets appropriately.
One way to do this is to broach the subject with your older parents in a thoughtful way.
Start of the conversation
Approaching the topic of estate planning requires sensitivity and tact. Start by expressing your genuine concern for their well-being and the desire to make sure others honor their wishes. Emphasize that the purpose of the conversation is to alleviate potential burdens for the family during challenging times.
Begin by discussing their preferences regarding medical care and end-of-life decisions. Encourage them to create an advance directive or living will.
This should detail their desires regarding medical treatments and interventions. Understanding their wishes allows you to provide support, even if they are unable to communicate their preferences in the future.
Inventory of assets
Shift the conversation toward their financial affairs. You can do this by helping them compile a comprehensive list of assets, including bank accounts, properties, investments and valuable possessions. This inventory helps them get a transparent understanding of their financial situation, simplifying the process for both parties.
Ask about the beneficiary designations on their retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Ensuring that these designations align with their current wishes is important for preventing disputes among heirs.
Importance of a will
Discuss the significance of having a will in place. A will provides a legally binding document that outlines how others will distribute their assets upon their passing. This minimizes the potential for family conflicts arising from unclear or contested inheritance matters.
Reassurance and support
Conclude the conversation by reassuring your parents that you intend to support and assist them through this process. Offering your help in finding professional guidance, if needed, can further ease their concerns about the complexities of estate planning.
With America’s median population age increasing to 38.9 as of 2022, it is never too soon to discuss the future. By approaching the discussion with empathy and a clear plan, you can also reduce feelings of stress for your elderly parents.