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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Friday, October 16, 2015

5 Tips for Talking With Aging Parents About Estate Planning

Talking with aging parents about estate planning and finances may be one of the most difficult conversations to approach. Finances are an extremely personal topic, and each family relates differently with money.

  1. Approach the conversation with sensitivity and understanding.
    Because this is somewhat of a role reversal, approaching the conversation with sensitivity and understanding is essential. Acknowledging that this is difficult for them brings a sense of compassion and understanding. Also, meeting at a time that is not pressured and a location that is low-stress can help ease the tension of the discussion.
  2. Consider how to bring up the subject.
    Prepare for the talk. One way to approach it is to work on your own estate plan, and then explain to your parents that you are in the process of establishing your estate plan and ask them if they have theirs in place. Another idea is to approach the subject by sharing a story of a friend who has experienced the effects of not having these things in order. Expressing your concern and why you hope to communicate about the subject may help them be more willing to talk. Most importantly, emphasize you want to help ease any stress they feel about their future.
  3. Gather important documents.
    Work on gathering important financial, medical, and estate planning documents. Knowing where they are kept and how to access them helps to avoid complications later. Consider consolidating multiple bank accounts and simplifying financial tasks, such as setting up automatic bill pay or deposits.
  4. Ensure their Estate Plan is in place.
    If documents are not already in place, explain the importance of deciding how they would like their assets distributed, as well as who they would like to help them handle their finances and medical decisions. Powers of attorney can become vital if a parent becomes unable to make their own decisions. Having them in place before that time comes avoids the stress and extra expense of a court-order guardianship in an already difficult time.
  5. Communicate – something is better than nothing.
    Communication is key. While it may be a process, start the conversation sooner rather than later. The difficulty only increases should a crisis arise. Rather than focusing on money, focus on determining what they value and finding ways to help them feel supported.

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