Some time in middle age, the average adult experiences a role reversal with their parents. As your parents grow older, they will likely start struggling with adopting new technology, adjusting to changes in society and managing their own lives. Eventually, they may require support from family members to pay their bills, travel to medical appointments and live safely.
If your parents have already passed the age of retirement, you probably assume that they have communicated with a financial adviser and put careful plans in place not only for their golden years but also for when they die. You have probably already made such plans yourself. However, you shouldn’t make assumptions on this critical topic.
Rather than leaving things unspoken and left to chance, the best approach is to talk to your parents about estate planning.
How do you bring up estate planning to your parents?
When it comes to such an emotional issue, it may sometimes be necessary to just be blunt or to ease into the discussion, depending on your relationship and how your parents communicate.
You might mention if someone you know has recently lost a parent or has had a family member hospitalized. Explaining how that person’s experience has made you worry about how well your parents have protected themselves can be a good way to get into the topic without offending anyone.
Alternately, you may try asking your parents whether they have made financial plans for nursing home care and similar needs when they get older.
What do your parents need?
When it comes to estate planning, there are so many different options for documents and how people structure their plans that it is impossible to offer one solution that works for every family.
However, as a general rule, almost every estate plan should have a last will that distributes property, along with the letter explaining any details that the testator can’t include in the last will. Some people use trusts because they have substantial assets, might need to qualify for Medicaid or worry about how a family member would handle an inheritance.
Especially if your parents are older or concerning medical conditions run in your family, powers of attorney and advance medical directives can be useful for conveying and upholding their medical wishes. Powers of attorney can also help your parents name someone they trust to manage their finances in the event of incapacitation.
Even if your parents do have a basic last will, they may need to expand it with auxiliary documents. They may also need to update the terms to make them a better reflection of your current family situation. The sooner you address the need for thorough estate planning or an update to existing documents, the sooner your parents can experience greater peace of mind.