10 Tips on How to Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning

If your older and aging parents have not yet prepared their Estate Plan, you may be worried. And it may be time to have a difficult conversation with them to help them get started. Here are 10 tips on how to have that conversation.

  1. Remind your parents that Estate Planning is not only for the ultra-wealthy. Everyone – including those with modest wealth – needs a good Estate Plan.

  2. Act appropriately. Don’t be greedy. Be fair to your siblings, step-parent, half-siblings and step-siblings. Assume your parents have good intentions and expect that they will be fair to you.

  3. Lead by example. Prepare your own estate plan. Show your parents you’ve made difficult decisions for your family, including the selection of a guardian for minor children.

  4. Remind your parents that good estate planning promotes – and may even be essential to – continued family harmony. That may be especially true in blended and non-traditional families.

  5. Explain the importance of planning to minimize state estate taxes, particularly in Massachusetts.

  6. Remind your parents that preparing their Estate Plan will give them control. It won’t require them to relinquish control. Without a plan, state probate laws determine how assets will pass and who will serve as Personal Representative.

  7. Don’t use scare tactics, but remind your parents that it is better to plan when life is good, rather than during a health emergency.

  8. Encourage your parents to make available and accessible information about their assets and finances, including the location of bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets.

  9. Discuss your parents’ wishes for end-of-life health care planning.

  10. Help your parents find a lawyer who feels “right” to them. Lawyers and law offices do not have to be intimidating or scary. The right lawyer will listen to their concerns and work with them cooperatively. Good planning can be done over the phone and Zoom.

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash