As the child of an aging parent, you’re likely thankful that they’ve maintained good enough health to continue taking care of themselves without any outside intervention. You may worry about the future, though. You might want to ensure that they have an estate plan in place to outline their wishes should they become incapacitated or when they die.
Finances and death are two important topics that many families don’t often discuss. How can you bring them up with your parents delicately?
The direct vs. less direct approach
Perhaps the best way to address estate or advanced planning with your parents is to bring it up directly. You might preface your conversation by noting that you hope that they continue to live a long and healthy life, but that estate planning is something everyone should do. You may then want to inquire whether they have a plan in place.
If you’re not comfortable having such a discussion with your parents outright, then you may want to call their attention to a situation where someone didn’t have an estate plan, and things didn’t turn out well. There’s no shortage of these stories online, and you might have a friend who has personally been through this.
Estate planning may mean different things to different people. Once the ball is rolling on these conversations, you’ll want to ascertain:
- What aspects of estate planning have they tackled? Do they just have a will, and when was it last updated? You might also want to ask if they have drafted other estate planning documents such as a power of attorney and health care directive or funded a trust.
- Are the estate planning documents easily located? A will and other estate planning documents are only helpful if they can be located.
You might take advantage of your parents opening up to inquire more about any long-term care or burial wishes they might have if they haven’t yet addressed those in their estate planning documents. You might also want to encourage them to put their wishes down on paper if they haven’t done so already.
Having such a conversation now will help alleviate any lingering concerns that your parents’ affairs aren’t in order and hopefully allow you to rest assured that their final wishes will be upheld when they die.