Most families find it difficult have a talk about estate planning. Adult children shy away from it as they do not want to be deemed a control freak or worse, greedy. Parents usually feel that estate planning is personal and they are not ready to talk about it. However, it is essential to have the talk before it’s too late. Here are a few tips to help you figure out the right time to talk to your parents about their estate plan.
Follow the 40-70 Rule
Many experts recommend following the 40-70 rule. It simply means to have the talk when the parent is around 70 and the adult child is around 40 years old. The understanding of this rule is that the parent is young enough at 70 years of age to clearly outline their wishes and the adult child is mature enough at the age of 40 to comprehend the gravity of the issues.
After the age of 70, the chances of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other health conditions increase and these conditions may impair the ability of a parent to make the necessary decisions.
How to Talk about Estate Planning?
It’s a touchy subject and you shouldn’t just walk up to your parents and ask them whether they have made an estate plan. It’s a sensitive topic and therefore, you need to approach it carefully.
Experts recommend setting up a meeting with your parents as it will give them ample time to be mentally prepared for the talk. It will also give them enough time to gather all of your siblings if they would like to have the talk with everyone present. Another way to broach the topic is to ask for advice on your own estate planning. In this manner, you can start discussing the importance of estate planning before it’s too late.
To avoid any misunderstanding, it is important that you let your parents know that you want to fully understand their wishes to avoid any arguments later. If they feel comfortable, you should also ask a third party such as a financial planner or an estate lawyer to join the conversation in order to take the edge off.
During the talk, you should ask them about their wills, assets, debts and other such important things. It’s better to be prepared with specific questions.
Overall, it’s important to have this conversation before it’s too late. Keep in mind that it’s a sensitive topic and you need to have an open mind in order to have a frank conversation with your parents.