Talking With Your Parents About Estate Planning

Senior couple sitting with son looking at tablet - talking to your parents about estate planning concept

Estate planning can be a hard topic to bring up with your loved ones. However, it’s crucial for everyone to have their estates in order to protect themselves and their family members. If your parents don’t have at least a will or a plan for incapacity in place, consequences can result that they might not have intended. Talking to your parents about estate planning and encouraging them to take the steps to draft a comprehensive plan can ensure their wishes are carried out as they grow older and after they pass.

How to Talk to Parents About Estate Planning

The estate planning conversation should revolve around so much more than who will inherit which assets — a comprehensive estate plan should also address the possibility of incapacity. This is a major reason why estate planning should not be put off until later in life. Once an individual is no longer mentally competent, they cannot execute these documents. A good estate plan should be in place that considers every possible scenario that could arise.

The following four topics are some of the most crucial estate planning issues, and provide a good starting point for talking to parents about estate planning:

1. Who Will Inherit Property and Handle the Distribution of the Assets?

The foundation of every estate plan is a last will and testament. This is the document that outlines which beneficiaries will receive the testator’s property when they pass. It can also specify an executor who will be responsible for winding up the affairs of the individual who died and handling the distribution of assets.

When it comes to drafting a will or creating a trust, the decisions an individual makes are very personal. However, the potential for disputes among siblings can arise if a parent doesn’t discuss their reasoning with their children. While it is not necessary, it can sometimes be helpful for parents to have an open conversation with their adult children to ensure their intentions are clearly communicated and understood. But it’s vital not to be overly persuasive when it comes to a parent’s estate plan — in such cases, a will or trust could be contested on the grounds of undue influence.

2. Where Will the Estate Planning Documents Be Stored?

Regardless of how much time has been spent on drafting estate planning documents, they won’t mean anything unless they can be found when the time comes. Talk with your parents about where they will be kept and how you will be able to access them. Many people store these documents in a safe deposit box at the bank or in a fireproof safe in the home.

3. Who Will Make Medical and Financial Decisions in the Event of Incapacity?

An important aspect of estate planning is creating a plan for incapacity. In the event your loved one cannot make medical or financial decisions for themselves, specific documents must be in place in order for someone else to have the authority to make these decisions for them — a will does not become effective until after a person passes away. Significantly, an estate plan should include a a financial power of attorney and a living will. A revocable trust can also be used to manage assets as a person ages.

A financial power of attorney can allow an individual to appoint someone to act on their behalf in financial and business matters. A living will communicates both an individual’s instructions for healthcare and end-of-life treatment if they have been declared incompetent, and may designate an agent to make medical decisions. These documents can help ensure your loved one receives the type of medical care they want to receive, in accordance with their wishes and values.

The Consequences of Not Having a Comprehensive Estate Plan

When talking to parents about estate planning, it’s essential to let them know that you have their best interests in mind. Without an estate plan — or a plan for incapacity — the court may be required to determine the outcome of crucial issues. Unfortunately, what the court might decide may not always be reflective of what your loved one’s wishes are.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Estate Planning Attorney When Talking to Your Parents About Estate Planning

Talking to parents about estate planning can feel intimidating, but it’s vital to have this conversation so that you know what they want for their future. A compassionate and knowledgeable attorney can help your loved one identify their goals and create a comprehensive plan that satisfies their objectives. The Kulick Law Firm offers high-quality legal services to clients in Northeastern Pennsylvania for a wide variety of estate planning matters. Call (570) 203-2756 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.

Categories: Estate Planning