An estate planning worksheet and glasses.There comes a time in every adult child’s life that they need to learn about their parents’ estate plan. Understanding your parents’ estate plan is important, it is not selfish, and it is prudent for your parents and for you.

But, none of this makes talking to your parents about their estate plan easy. Regardless of how close you are (or aren’t) to your parents, openly acknowledging their mortality and discussing what will happen when they are gone is one of the most difficult things that many people ever have to do. So, if you are struggling, you are not alone, and you are doing the right thing by figuring out how to move forward.

3 Important Facts to Consider When Talking to Your Parents about Their Estate Plan

Before we talk about our tips for having a discussion with your parents, we first want to make sure that three important facts are clear. If you keep these facts in mind, you will likely find it easier to get over the hump and have the discussion you need to have:

  • They know you have questions. First, your parents already know that you have questions about their estate plan. In fact, they have probably thought about it even more than you.
  • Making sure you know their plan is in their best interests and yours. Second, having a discussion about your parents’ estate plan is important for everyone involved. You need to know what you can expect, and your parents need to know that you are prepared to see their final wishes through.
  • It needs to be done. Third, it needs to be done. There is simply no other way to put it. Once you get it out of the way, it will be over, and you will thank yourself for pushing through.

8 Tips for Talking to Your Elderly Parents About Estate Planning

So, how do you talk to your parents about their estate plan? Here are our eight tips for having a productive discussion:

1. Make Your Intentions Known

Given the importance of talking about your parents’ estate plan and the potential emotions it can involve, you most likely do not want to simply spring the subject on your parents over dinner or an afternoon walk. Instead, tell your parents what you are thinking, and let them know it is important to you that you have an open and frank discussion.

2. Schedule a Time to Talk

In this same vein, we recommend scheduling a time to talk. Choose a comfortable and familiar setting, and choose a time that works well for your parents. Don’t keep them up late, and don’t force them to reschedule a doctor’s appointment or a visit with friends. Set aside an hour or so to talk, and make sure you can be there on time.

3. Come Prepared with Specific Questions and Ideas

More than likely, you will want to lead the discussion. This means that you will need to come prepared. Write down a list of specific questions you want to ask and ideas you want to share. It is okay to work from your notes – this is an important discussion and you do not want to forget anything – but it is a good idea to review your notes in advance as well.

4. Be Prepared to Explain What is Important and Why

Even if your parents have an estate plan, they still might not be familiar with all of the issues that you will need to discuss. So, to the extent that you can, you should prepare yourself to be able to explain what is important, why it is important, and what you think needs to be done (if anything). For some practical information, we encourage you to read:

5. Be Prepared to Listen

In addition to being prepared to speak, you should also be prepared to listen. Try not to interrupt your parents, and listen to their ideas even if they do not align with yours. Soak in what they have to say. Give it the consideration it deserves. While the outcome will affect you, it is ultimately their estate plan and their final wishes that will control.

6. Try Not to Let Emotions or Finances Control Your Discussion

For obvious reasons, discussions about your parents’ estate plan can get emotional, and they can also tend to center on financial issues. While it is important not to ignore your emotions (or your family’s finances), it is also important not to lose sight of the broader goal at hand—which is ensuring that your parents have a sound estate plan that you understand.

7. Consider Involving Your Siblings

If you have siblings, you may want to consider involving them in your discussion as well. They will most likely need to learn everything you learn at some point as well, and it may make the most sense for them to hear from your parents first-hand. Your siblings may also be having thoughts and concerns that are similar to yours, and getting everyone on the same page could help your discussions, and the eventual administration of your parents’ estate, go more smoothly.

8. Have a Plan for Next Steps

Finally, going into your discussion, you should have an idea of what you believe are the necessary next steps. Do you think your parents will need to update their estate plan? Are you contemplating guardianship? Do you simply need to know where to locate their estate plan when the time comes? Having a clear idea of your goals (or potential goals) can also help you guide the discussion and make sure it is as productive as possible.

Speak with a Trusted Lawyer at Beller & Bustamante, P.L.

Do you have questions or concerns about protecting your parents and/or their assets? If so, we invite you to schedule a consultation at Beller & Bustamante, P.L. To speak with one of our experienced lawyers in confidence, please call us directly or request an appointment online today.