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How to Talk to Your Parents About Their Estate Plans

Retirment-photo.pngParents have countless difficult discussions with their children as they grow up. However, there comes a point when it is the children who must be the ones to have these difficult discussions with their parents.

For instance, have you talked to your parents about their estate plans? Do you know what they have planned in terms of long-term care? These can be difficult subjects to discuss, but adult children can save themselves and their parents considerable grief by starting a dialogue. Below are a few tips on how to do this.

  1. Keep it comfortable. Don't have these discussions when you are in the middle of a crowded restaurant, or when one of you is in a hurry. Don't bring it up when one or both parties are combative or dealing with a stressful situation. Instead, bring it up when you are in a comfortable place, like your parents' home. And allow yourselves adequate time to discuss details, ask questions, and address potential areas for conflict.
  2. Focus on openness and honesty. Talking about their estate plans can make parents feel defensive or nervous about what their children will think. To alleviate some of this stress, be open with your intentions and listen to them with an open mind. If you feel there may be gaps or problems with their plans, be respectful but honest about what you think. 
  3. Don't undermine their wishes or try to take control. If your parents have made decisions with which you don't agree, do not ignore them or attempt to sabotage their plans. Instead, be respectful and ask questions to gain some insight into their thought processes. If you are unsure how to approach a specific topic, articles like this one on elder etiquette can provide some guidance. Further, instead of trying to "fix" the issues you might see with their plans, you can encourage your parents to discuss potential problems with a qualified attorney.

Talking to parents about their estate plans can be difficult. However, these tips can make it a little easier. The important thing is to ensure your parents have an effective plan in place. If they do not, talking to them can help bring attention to the matter before it is too late.

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