How to talk to your aging parents about estate planning

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Estate Planning

Talking about finances and health challenges can be very emotional. Many older adults grew up in households where such discussions were largely deemed inappropriate. They may pass those values on to their children, who may then struggle to talk about practical concerns as they watch their parents age.

Those with aging parents who are at or past the age of retirement may worry about whether their parents have an estate plan and what the details of that plan might be. How can someone who worries about an awkward and uncomfortable conversation discuss estate planning with their parents?

By starting with their siblings (if applicable)

Some parents only talk about estate planning matters with one of their children despite having large families. Others don’t discuss their plan with anyone. Children worried that their parents may not have an estate plan can first discuss the matter with their siblings to determine whether their parents have already drafted documents. They can also discuss having a sit-down conversation with the entire family present to ensure everyone is on the same page.

By talking about real-world examples

Most people know at least one person who had to watch an aging loved one struggle through improper medical care due to a lack of proper planning. Plenty of others may have witnessed the conflict that erupts when parents die and do not leave testamentary documents. Siblings may end up destroying their relationships with one another as they fight over the inheritance that they believe they should receive.

Even if parents don’t worry much about their personal legacies, they undoubtedly want to minimize the stress their children may experience after their death and the conflict that probate proceedings may trigger. Talking about the negative experiences others have had when parents die without an estate plan might inspire parents to take action to protect the people they love the most.

As a final note, raising questions about the ability to pay for nursing home care can sometimes help older adults see the value in estate planning. They can plan for long-term care needs and guardianship matters in addition to the legacy that they may leave behind when they die.

Ultimately, discussing estate planning with parents can be awkward but is often an important step for the adult children of aging parents.