If your parents have not created their estate plans yet, they are not alone. According to one survey, only about one in three Americans have some kind of estate plan in place. Those who do not tend to give excuses such as “It’s too expensive” or “I don’t like to think about dying.”
Whatever reasons your parents have for not doing estate planning, not having a plan can be much worse. If they die without a will and perhaps a trust, the process of probating their estates probably will be much more difficult for whoever ends up being the executor, which could be you. A lack of an estate plan can affect them during their lives too, especially if they become mentally incapacitated. And it could mean a larger chunk of their wealth will go to taxes than necessary.
Ideas for starting the conversation
Thus, it would be better for the entire family if your parents took care of estate planning. But trying to have a conversation about this can be awkward and could backfire if you aren’t careful. Here are five tips to help you convince your parents that it is time to do estate planning.
- Consider how you’ll bring up the topic. You know your parents best, so you know what strategy is most likely to work. Possibilities include using an example from the family’s past where an estate plan would have helped or asking them for help understanding what they want to happen.
- Be patient. This will likely be a series of discussions, not a single talk.
- Bring in other family members. Make it clear to everybody that you have your parents’ best interests at heart.
- Listen to your parents’ estate planning wishes without judgment.
- If possible, try to have this discussion while your parents are still healthy and mentally able to make important decisions.
With estate planning done, your parents will protect themselves in case of a medical emergency and secure their legacy to their loved ones according to their wishes.