While it is not an easy conversation to have, adult children must be able to honestly communicate with their elderly parents about estate planning. Simple preferences such as cremation over burial or the city of their final resting place can be addressed in the plan – reducing the possibility of familial disputes in the future. Even though the benefits of an estate plan are easy to see, it might be a difficult conversation to get started.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing to have this conversation with your elderly loved ones:
- Avoid pressure and exercise patience: While you might have a clear understanding of the importance of drafting an estate plan, your parents might not see it the same way. Your primary goal is to catalog their end of life decisions while avoiding familial debate, but this process forces them to confront their own mortality which can be a difficult topic. Take your time but remain firm in your resolve.
- Exercise transparency in communication: Whenever possible, you should encourage your siblings to participate in these conversations. Not in an attempt to “gang up” on your parents, but as a show of transparency and solidarity. Additionally, any covert conversations could ultimately lead to hurt feelings and damaged relationships in the future.
- Take time to listen: In what can be a challenging conversation, it is crucial that you pay attention to what’s being said – and what’s being left unsaid. Missing non-verbal cues is one thing but forcing your elderly parents to repeat their instructions numerous times can be frustrating for everyone involved.
- Don’t procrastinate: These conversations are best held earlier rather than later. Essentially, you should discuss estate planning with your parents well in advance of it being a necessary topic. Understanding their thoughts regarding nursing homes or assisted care facilities while a lively conversation can take place is invaluable. Additionally, if one or both of your parents begins to suffer from dementia, it can be challenging to gain any true insight into their concerns.
These conversations can be difficult for all parties involved; however, this does not diminish their importance. Developing a comprehensive estate plan can be a crucial element to giving voice to your end of life wishes. When it becomes necessary, be patient with your parents and enlist the aid of your loved ones. Look to an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance and representation.