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Tips for talking to your parents about their estate plans

It is not easy to watch our parents get older, especially when their health is failing. And these changes can prompt several discussions that can be uncomfortable but necessary. One such topic is your parent’s estate plan.

Talking about estate planning may not be high on your list of priorities, but doing so can provide you and your parents with a sense of confidence and relief. To make this conversation easier and productive, consider the following suggestions.

Pick the right time, place and tone

When you talk to your parents, do so in a comfortable place, like your parent’s home or your home. 

Try to avoid bringing up the topic during stressful events or when there is not sufficient time to have a meaningful discussion. 

It can also be helpful to talk about why you are bringing the subject up. Maybe you are worried about their health, or you just want to understand that they have financial protections in place. Whatever your reason may be, focus on being compassionate and sincere.

Set the framework

It can be beneficial to have a guide to help you navigate this conversation. 

For example, you might want to start talking about what – if any – estate planning documents in place. If they don’t have anything, talk about what they should have. These documents include:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Advance care directives
  • Living wills

You can then talk to them about any plans they have that may be unusual or specific. Doing so can give them the opportunity to explain and you the chance to ask questions. 

It can also be wise to talk about how they feel about their legacy in general. Doing so can provide valuable guidance should questions arise in the future that they cannot answer.

Make a follow-up plan

After the conversation, plan to follow up. Maybe you need to connect your parents to an attorney or revisit the conversation after they have had a chance to think about what they want.

Whatever the situation may be, plan to look into any unanswered questions or check back in with your parents if circumstances change. 

Talking about an estate plan with your parent can be uncomfortable, but these tips can make this critical conversation easier.