In most families, discussing your parents’ estate plan is an uncomfortable subject that is avoided. Adult children don’t want to see ‘the conversation’ as a money grab for their inheritance, and parents don’t want to be viewed as losing their cognitive abilities and often resent their children and grandchildren prying into their personal business. The reality is, most parents predecease their children, and most children and not fully prepared when their parents die.
1. Call A Family Meeting
Don’t spring the topic of their final wishes on your parents unexpectedly. Schedule a time to sit down with your parents and other key family members to ask them about their wishes in case anything happens to them and they can no longer make their own decisions, or when they die.
2. Approach the Topic With Respect and Care
Be candid and considerate. Many people joke about uncomfortable or sensitive topics, but this can lead to hurt feelings and anger. Only you know your family’s dynamic, but be sensitive to their reluctance to discuss their inevitable death.
3. Start the Conversations While Your Parents Are in Good Health
Adult children should initiate estate planning conversations with their parents while they’re still in good health so that they can make their own decisions. If you delay the conversation about estate planning, senior health care, and end-of-life wishes until a crisis occurs, your parents will feel unprepared and unable to control their own future.
4. Ask About Documents and Key Names and Numbers
Your parents may have a well-prepared estate plan – but you simply don’t know it. Ask your parents where their important legal documents are stored and for the contact information on critical people such as their estate planning attorney, accountant or financial advisor. Is there a will or trust? What about advance healthcare directives? Do you need a power of attorney? If they have critical files online, how do you access them? How will the bills get paid if they become ill or incapacitated?
5. Involve A Neutral 3rd Party
A neutral but informed 3rd party such as a trusted friend, an estate planning attorney or a respected family member can help facilitate the conversation and make sure the right information is shared and everyone feels respected and has their questions answered.
Managing your parent’s estate is something no child looks forward to, and most aren’t prepared for. Parents and adult children can avoid future issues to manage their finances and manage their parent’s estate if they start planning now.
To talk to a qualified estate planning attorney in Chicago or Lombard, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties