If you are like most Americans, you will probably be spending at least some of your vacation time this summer with older family members. While there are few perfect times to talk with parents about their estate plan, the relaxed times you spend together on vacation can be one of them.
Here are some tips on how to conduct this critical conversation:
Find a good place to start. One of the best ways to ease your parents into a financial discussion is to bring up your own. Tell your parents that you were looking into your own estate plan and wondering if they had already executed their own. Sometimes you can use scare tactics to good effect – there are lots of stories about celebrities or others who have neglected to plan and paid the price with dire consequences.
Take it easy. If you feel that parents may need some help with organizing their financial lives, be reassuring rather than applying pressure. Let them know that you want to make sure their financial independence is kept intact for as long as possible. Take things one step at a time, such as extending an offer to help them use online bill pay or assist them with organizing their information at tax time.
Respect boundaries. Many parents feel uncomfortable discussing their finances with their children. If you face this obstacle, let your parents know that you at least need to know where to find their important documents when it becomes necessary, but that you aren’t attempting to control them in anyway. You simply want to help and make things as easy as possible for you and your siblings when something does happen.
Sometimes initiating a conversation with parents about estate planning can be easier with the help of a lawyer.