One of the most difficult conversations to have with your parents is to discuss estate planning. As children, you don’t want to face the eventuality of your loved ones’ demise. And, aging parents often don’t want to deal with the thought of dying. But, as a family, it’s important to have estate matters in order when one or both parents die.
Starting the hard conversation of end-of-life planning isn’t always easy when your parents don’t even want to face making such decisions. You can recommend estate planning lawyers Melbourne families are using when needing to make important decisions. But, the first step is finding out what estate planning your parents have initiated, if any.
Here are some tips to get you started as you approach your parents for a tough conversation.
Estate Planning: 5 Tips
1. Get the Timing Right
Starting a conversation about estate planning with parents over their sixties who believe they still have a whole lifetime ahead of them, won’t always be easy. The present is always the right time as death has no timeline. But, deciding to suddenly bring up estate planning at your parents’ golden anniversary won’t go down well!
Having the conversation now is vital, no matter how old your parents are. But, selecting the right timing is crucial if you want your parents to hear what you have to say. Be open and tell them you want to meet for dinner to discuss legal matters such as wills.
2. Explain Why the Conversation is Important
Death is unpredictable, no matter how healthy your parents may believe they are. If one of your parents succumbs to a serious illness, they may not be in the right state of mind to plan their estate. End-of-life care is also expensive and if children know their parents have put a plan in place, they know what to expect should the time come.
If your parents have named you as the executor of the estate, it’s important to know. Estate settlement is a strenuous and long affair at the best of times. But, it’s worse when you don’t know what is involved in the estate plan. If your parents have huge debts, have they put a strategy in place should they die? If not, you could be landed with serious financial worries. Make sure your parents understand why estate planning is important and why the conversation has to happen.
3. Involve the Siblings
Estate planning with your parents should be done in conjunction with your siblings. There are benefits to this strategy:
- They can support you in starting the conversation with your parents.
- It reduces the risk of siblings accusing you of meddling in your parents’ estate affairs or going behind their backs.
- Your parents can express their wishes knowing every sibling is fully aware of them, limiting the risk of family members fighting over the estate when the parent dies.
Taking into consideration the family dynamics is important if you want to avoid tension and disputes further down the line. If there are other family members that could benefit from your parent’s estate, they should also be involved in the conversation.
4. Ask What Estate Planning Has Been Done
Statistics reveal that 52% of Australian men haven’t drawn up a will. You want to find out if your parents are part of that statistic by asking them what estate planning they’ve done. If some estate planning has already happened, find out the following:
- Documentation: Do they have a will and have they appointed a power of attorney? Documentation for end-of-life care is important as well as for the establishment of trusts, guardianship for younger children, and handling of family businesses.
- Changes to circumstances: Have circumstances changed since your parents did estate planning? If there’s been a divorce or stepchildren have come into the picture, documentation needs to be updated.
Knowing if your parents have actually done some estate planning will give you the opportunity to start the conversation about whether changes need to be made. It also gives you a clearer indication of what documentation is still needed and where they’re being kept.
5. Recommend an Estate Planning Lawyer
Before talking to your parents about estate planning, do your research and find an estate planning lawyer you can trust to handle your parents’ affairs. If your parents are still dawdling about putting an estate plan together, you can recommend a professional to help them.
Sometimes, not knowing how to go about drawing up a will or appointing a power of attorney may be holding your parents back from taking the first step. Giving them the name of someone you trust to handle their end-of-life matters may be all they need to get started.
Starting the conversation is awkward especially if your parents avoid talking about their mortality. But, it’s a conversation all families need to have. Use these tips to navigate through the talk and give everyone peace of mind.