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No one likes to think about death, but it’s a part of life, and now is the best time to talk about it. If your parents are aging and you haven’t had the talk about their finances, final wishes, and even healthcare decisions, it’s time.
Here’s how to talk to your parents about these tough topics to get the answers you need and feel at peace that your parents are well cared for and their final decisions respected.
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When Is the Right Time to Tabout About Money With Your Parents?
We’ll get right to the point. The right time to get the conversation started about their financial will and estate is now.
Because life is so uncertain. We don’t know what could happen from one day to the next. The last thing you want is to harbor regrets because you didn’t have the conversation sooner.
Many people wait for a big event in their lives or for the time that ‘feels right,’ but there’s no such thing. It probably won't be a comfortable conversation, but the rest will fall into place once you get the initial discussion over.
5 Reasons Not to Put Off Talking to Your Parents About Their Estate Plan
If you still aren’t sure you should talk to your parents about their will and estate planning now, here are X reasons you won’t want to delay.
1. 2020 Showed Us Anything Is Possible
No one could have predicted what millions of families would go through in 2020. But, pandemic or not, it was a rough year for millions of families who likely wished they had thought about a financial will and estate planning much sooner.
Wouldn't it feel better to be prepared rather than caught red-handed? Would you sleep better at night knowing your parents’ estate is up in the air or handled?
2. You Need to Know What (If Any) Financial Obligation You’ll Have
If your parents will depend on you financially when they retire, especially in their older years, that’s something you need to know now. You can’t plan for something like that overnight. Your perfectly laid retirement plans could easily be derailed if you suddenly have to care for your parents.
Knowing ahead of time allows you to plan proper insurance, medical care, and even where/how you live, knowing you may have to take your parents in one day.
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3. You Should Know Your Role in Their Estate Planning
If your parents chose you as executor of their estate, there are certain pieces of information you must be privy to that you otherwise wouldn’t need if you aren’t the executor. Most adult children don’t ask their parents sensitive information about their finances, passwords, and the location of their important documents unless they know they are the one to be in charge if/when they become incapacitated or pass away.
4. You Could Avoid Expensive and Time-Consuming Court Battles
Knowing your parents’ estate is handled professionally and adequately can offset the risk of probate, court costs, and delays in distributing your parents’ estate. In addition, knowing your parents’ final wishes and how to carry them out could prevent unnecessary fights, costs, and overall stress in an already stressful situation. Speaking with an estate planning attorney or discussing estate planning with a certified financial planner may be wise.
5. You’ll Know Who Your Parents Want Involved (And Who They Don’t Want Involved)
It’s easy to assume your parents would want the entire family involved in their estate, but that’s not always the case. Talking to your parents now when they are of the right frame of mind will let you know exactly who they want to be involved and who they don’t want to know anything about their final estate or end of life decisions.
Who Should You Include in the Conversation With Your Parents?
As you plan to talk with your parents about their financial will and estate, you should consider who to include in the conversation. Typically, families include all siblings, but some families may have unique family dynamics. So consider including others in the end of life planning as well.
Think about who your parents are comfortable talking about such a topic to and who would have a stake in the estate. When everyone is on the same page, you can prevent arguments or family disputes. It will also make sure you include who your parents want and exclude anyone they don't.
6 Tips for Successful Conversations With Your Parents About Estate Planning
1. Plan Your Conversation During a Calm Time
Waiting for a crisis is the worst time to talk to your parents about their estate. Instead, plan it around a time you can have all relevant family members present (virtually or in-person), and you can have a calm conversation. Try not to do it when anyone is under stress or when anyone's feelings are heightened.
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2. Choose a Place Everyone Is Comfortable
If your parents are a bit more on edge in their own home, consider a neutral setting where everyone will feel relaxed and able to be honest with one another. Don’t choose a time and place that your parents will feel pressured or attacked. Rather, make sure they can listen and understand where you’re coming from.
3. Don’t Talk About Numbers
Make it clear that you aren’t having the conversation because you want to know how much money your parents are leaving you or are asking for a substantial inheritance. Instead, let your parents understand you, as their adult child, are coming from a place of love and concern.
You want your parents to have peace of mind knowing that you're acting on your parents behalf. Ensure them that their estate is taken care of and that the right people are taking care of it.
4. Discuss the Location of Important Documents
Once your parents establish who they want to be involved in their estate planning, discuss where any important legal documents are that they have. These can include a living will, documentation on retirement accounts, birth certificates, digital assets, pre-planned funeral arrangements, and any additional documentation regarding their own financial planning. If they aren’t sure or don’t want possession of them, consider placing them in a safety deposit box at the bank with their name and the executor’s name on them.
5. Discuss Final Arrangements
It’s not pleasant, but you must talk about it and now is the best time. Ask your parents what final arrangements they’ve already made and/or what help they need completing their end of life wishes. Then, again, approach them from a place of love and wanting to give them peace of mind knowing that their final wishes will be respected.
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6. Discuss a Power of Attorney for Health Care
While talking to your parents about their finances and estate, it’s also a convenient time to discuss their healthcare and medical decisions. Parents should share any health care expenses or pre-existing conditions many adult children may not be privy to.
Incapacitated parents may not be able to make decisions for themselves. Who will make critical decisions for them if they become unable? What decisions do they want made, and which decisions have they made already, such as resuscitation, life sustaining treatment, organ donation, living wills, and more.
It’s not easy talking to your parents about their personal finance, but such a difficult conversation is necessary. It may feel like a role reversal or even a breach of the parent/child relationship. Eventually, however, the tables turn, and you’re the family member in charge.
Don't be afraid to utilize an estate planning attorney, certified public accountant, financial advisor, or investigate other financial professionals. In addition, you may want to conduct some of your own planning. Hold a family meeting to keep everyone updated on your aging parents wishes and estate plans. Such conversations about financial matters are vital.
Knowing that your parents have addressed their estate can help you enjoy your time with them during their golden years without worrying how they will get by or how it will affect you financially as they age.