Bringing up your parents’ estate plan may have seemed unnecessary to you for years. However, watching a co-worker muddle through intestate probate proceedings because their mother didn’t leave a will might motivate you.
Now you know you need to talk to your parents about their estate plan to protect their wishes and your future mental health. Make sure that you don’t accidentally commit one of the common mistakes below when having this conversation with your parents.
Putting it off for any little excuse
Talking about what happens when your parents die with them won’t be a pleasant conversation, so you will naturally try to find ways to delay that talk.
Unfortunately, there will always be excuses, and you could easily delay the conversation until your parents’ health started to decline and they no longer have the capacity to create valid and enforceable documents.
Once you know you need to have a talk, it’s important to achieve that goal quickly.
Don’t make it all about yourself
It’s natural for you to worry about how hard it would be to handle the estate without direction from your parents, but that isn’t the right focus for the discussion with them.
Instead, you may want to talk about what happens to their property if they die without documents or how certain family members might fight over some of their property.
If your parents can see the possible issues that might arise, they may respond more positively to the conversation.
Don’t jump into the conversation unprepared
Know what questions to ask ahead of time. Just asking your parents if they have a will or estate plan isn’t enough.
You need to know when they created it, when they last updated it and what attorney help them draft it. It’s possible that the law has changed since then. Your family circumstances may also have shifted. Your parents may have new assets or more family members than they did years ago.
Making sure someone’s documents are recent enough to stand up to scrutiny in court is as important as ensuring they have an estate plan to begin with.
Only focusing on physical property
An estate plan is more than just documents declaring who will serve as executor and what family members receive which assets. An estate plan also talks about the care your parents want to receive as they get older and who will take over their responsibilities if they become incapacitated due to illness or age.
Having a thorough conversation about estate planning with your parents can help protect their wishes and your peace of mind as they grow older.