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How to Speak With Mom and Dad About Estate Planning

Welcome to Vick Law, P.C., where we understand that discussing estate planning with your parents can be a sensitive yet crucial conversation. In today's article, we will offer tips on how to approach Mom and Dad about estate planning. As our parents age, having an open and compassionate dialogue becomes essential to ensure their wishes are honored and their legacy is protected. Join us as we provide you with practical guidance on initiating this important conversation and fostering an environment of understanding and preparedness.

Where to Start

Approaching the topic of estate planning with aging parents can be a delicate endeavor. To initiate this conversation, consider setting aside a comfortable and quiet time, free from distractions. Express your genuine concern for their well-being and their desires for the future. Start by sharing your own thoughts about estate planning and how you've been considering your own preparations. This can create a relatable context and ease the transition into discussing their own plans. Remember, the key is to approach the conversation with empathy, patience, and a genuine desire to understand their wishes. By fostering an open and non-judgmental environment, you can gently broach the subject and ensure that your parents' needs and preferences are at the forefront of the discussion.

What to Consider

The estate planning process typically includes making a list of your assets and debts, determining the beneficiaries of your property, and establishing a power of attorney (a person who can act on your behalf to handle your finances, healthcare, or other needs, if you become incapacitated).

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s recent article, “Five tips for having a conversation with your loved one about estate planning,” gives us some ideas to make the conversation easier.

  1. Learn the laws. Know your state's probate laws when you talk to family members about estate planning. Some states’ laws say that if a family member dies intestate (without a will), their assets — if they have any — go directly to their children. However, this can present issues if there are no children or multiple children and no one, such as a trustee or executor, to carry out the dead loved one's wishes.
  2. Start early. The earlier these discussions happen, the better. In many cases, people wait until they’re already sick and having problems before they even begin to think about estate planning. Involve loved ones early, so they feel invested in seeing it through and that planning will help ensure that their death does not burden the ones they love.
  3. Keep discussions empathetic and brief. Family visits or holiday gatherings are good times to discuss estate planning. It's important to remind relatives that planning protects their wishes. Ask open-ended questions, such as, "Let’s talk about your legacy or how you would like to give back to your family or your community."
  4. Remind your loved one they're in control — and estate planning helps them stay that way. Leaving your loved one out of the planning process can result in their wishes being misinterpreted or not represented.

Speaking with your parents about estate planning is an act of love that paves the way for their future and the peace of mind of all involved. At Vick Law, P.C., we recognize the complexities of family discussions and are here to support you every step of the way. Our experienced team understands the sensitivity of this topic and can assist in crafting a comprehensive estate plan that aligns with your parents' wishes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how our expertise in estate planning and elder law can help facilitate this crucial conversation. Let us be your partners in ensuring your parents' well-being and honoring their legacy.

Reference: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (April 25, 2023) “Five tips for having a conversation with your loved one about estate planning”

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