Hard Conversations: Talking to Your Parents About Estate Planning

Written By: Marissa Waldron, CFP®

There are many reasons people don’t want to talk about estate planning. Maybe it’s hard to think about a time when they’re no longer with you (either physically or cognitively), they’ve always been private about their finances, or you don’t want to come across as presumptuous. However, there are more reasons TO have the conversation than not to. Having these conservations openly and often will help simplify things in the future when dealing with issues that come up. 

Involve Others: If you have siblings, it’s best to approach these conversations collectively. Working together will help build trust and ensure that all parties are on the same page. It may prevent speculation that one sibling is influencing a parent to their way of thinking, and may also prevent disagreements later, trying to guess what your parents “would have wanted.”  If you think there may be arguments, consider involving a third party, like an estate planning attorney.

Ask What Planning They’ve Already Done: A complete estate plan should include a will, possibly a trust, power of attorney for health care, power of attorney for finances, and a living will. If there is a family business, a business plan should be brought up. Even if your parents have all these things in place, circumstances may have changed since they last made their plan. Children have grown up, marriages have started or ended, grandchildren have entered the picture, etc. 

Don’t Wait: As with most important topics, time is of the essence. Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Getting a plan in place today will help make things go more smoothly and avoid unpleasant surprises in the future – just ask someone who has had a parent pass without an estate plan. That said, don’t spring the talk on anyone but thoughtfully choose a time to have a discussion. You’ll want to know what role you will have in your parents’ plan. Chances are you are busy working, raising kids, and planning for your own retirement. You need to know if you might be relied upon to provide financial or physical assistance with an aging parent. If you’re named the executor of their estate, make sure you know where their documents and accounts are kept. 

Discussions around legacy and inheritance planning can certainly be awkward, challenging, and intimidating, but these conversations are important to have to better prepare all those involved.

Say What?

A shortage of pink paint? Production of this summer’s “Barbie” movie (which is marketed to both Barbie doll lovers and haters) wiped out a company’s entire global supply of pink paint.

This week in history

1969 (July 20) – The Apollo 11 astronauts made history this week in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon. It’s estimated over 500 million people around the world tuned in to national broadcasts of the lunar landing. 

1975 – The nation’s Consumer Price Index showed that the yearly inflation was running at nine percent, but in some areas – such as the cost of food – inflation was increasing close to 1.5 percent per month.

1976 – During the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal, the first perfect 10 ever recorded in Olympic gymnastics was achieved. Romania’s 4-foot-11, 88-pound Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 on the women’s uneven parallel bars.

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