If you are like most Americans, you will probably be spending at least some of your vacation time this summer with older family members. While there are few perfect times to talk with parents about their estate plan, the relaxed times you spend together on vacation can be one of them.
Here are some tips on how to conduct this critical conversation:
Find a good place to start. One of the best ways to ease your parents into this type of discussion is to bring up your own planning. Tell your parents you were looking into estate planning and wondered if they had already executed a plan of their own. Sometimes you can use current events to good effect – there are lots of recent stories about celebrities or others who neglected to plan and whose families suffered the dire consequences. See my recent blog posts about Jerry Orbach, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Walker for examples.
Take it easy. If you feel your parents may need some help with organizing their financial lives, be reassuring rather than applying pressure. Let them know your goal is to make sure their financial independence is kept intact for as long as possible. Take things one step at a time, such as extending an offer to help them use online bill pay or assist them with organizing their information at tax time.
Respect boundaries. Many parents feel uncomfortable discussing their finances with their children. If you face this obstacle, let your parents know that you at least need to know where to find their important documents when it becomes necessary, but that you aren’t attempting to control them in anyway. You simply want to help and make things as easy as possible for you and your siblings when something does happen.
Sometimes initiating a conversation with parents about estate planning can be easier with the help of a trusted professional. During a Family Estate Planning Session we can guide the conversation and help you and your family take control of their affairs. Call our office today at to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about designing an estate plan that fits the needs of you and your family.