If your elderly parent does not have a comprehensive estate plan in place, you likely want to encourage him or her to begin the planning process. Alternatively, if your aging loved one has not reviewed an existing plan in some time, it may no longer reflect his or her most current wishes. Either way, the first few months of the year offer an excellent opportunity to think about estate planning.
Discussing estate planning can be difficult for a variety of reasons. For example, your parent may be uncomfortable thinking about the end of his or her life. Still, estate planning provides a chance to retain some level of control. Here are a few tips for talking to your aging parent about estate planning:
1. Be patient
Good estate plans rarely develop quickly. On the contrary, it often takes time to think through the process and weigh all available options. Therefore, it may be helpful to think of your mother’s or father’s estate plan as an ongoing endeavor. Put simply, you should try to be patient and work collaboratively over time.
2. Stay focused
Because estate planning may bring up some deep-seated emotions, it is often easy to lose focus. Accordingly, you should try to keep planning conversations on track. You may also want to involve as many interested parties as possible to help your aging relative draft a comprehensive and meaningful plan.
3. Take notes
Beginning the planning process is often an exercise in listening. That is, your parent may need to talk through his or her wishes. As such, you should keep good notes during your conversation. This not only allows you to document your loved one’s desires, but it also lets you revisit incomplete matters.
Whether your parent has an existing estate plan or none at all, now is a good time to discuss his or her wishes. While broaching the subject can be tough, knowing how to talk about your relative’s estate plan is essential. Fortunately, with a bit of empathy and some diligence, you can help your parent through the process.