Nobody likes talking about mortality. It’s an uncomfortable thing to address. Talking about it with friends and family members can be especially painful—yet it’s also important. We all die, and when our time comes, we don’t want to leave our family members with any financial burdens or tough decisions. Thus, it’s important to have “the talk” sooner rather than later—discussing estate planning before a sudden death or incapacitation.
In this post, we’ll offer some guidelines.
This doesn’t have to be a big, dramatic conversation. Emotions will likely run high, so begin gently and remain objective.
Something else to consider: You don’t necessarily have to discuss all the financial or legal particulars. Given how complex estate planning can get, this may actually be counterproductive.
Instead, just touch on the basics of the estate plan. Make sure there is a basic framework in place for understanding end-of-life planning. Don’t interrogate your elderly parents about every last detail of their plan, but instead just make sure they are thinking about the big-ticket items—whether they need a will vs. revocable trust, healthcare directives, powers of attorney, etc. Work together to ensure a plan in which assets are all accounted for.
Discuss the main topics of the estate plan only when all parties involved are feeling fairly comfortable with the topic. Make sure you discuss asset distribution itself, but also your elderly parents’ end-of-life wishes. This might encompass advanced healthcare directives, funeral arrangements, and measures against possible financial scams targeting advanced adults. Make it clear that you simply want to honor their wishes, whatever those wishes may be.
Note that the help of an estate planning professional may be needed here. Call your attorney if you need help understanding living trusts, choosing between a will vs. revocable trust, figuring out what is a dynasty trust, etc.
In the end, “the talk” should be a discussion and not a time to raise past grievances or personal opinions.
Again, empathy is key here—so remember that you’re not just trying to get the finances squared away, or finalizing funeral arrangements. You also want to arrive at an estate plan that will give your elderly parents some peace of mind in their twilight years.
It’s not fun to talk about death—but it’s critically important to be open and honest about estate planning, working together toward the best solution for your family. So while estate planning discussions can be difficult, they can also be really fruitful.
Don’t put off having “the talk” with your loved ones—and if you have any questions, make sure you have an attorney you can depend on. With any questions about estate planning particulars or about probate in California, reach out to Singh Law Firm at any time.