Estate Planning Awareness Week – Part 2

How Can You Encourage Your Loved Ones to Create an Estate Plan?

Estate Planning Awareness Week is a great opportunity, not only to take steps to make sure your own estate plan is in place, but also to talk to your loved ones, especially elderly parents, about creating an estate plan. We know that talking about wills and other end of life issues is difficult. It brings the unpleasant topics of aging and death to the forefront of our minds, and that is unsettling. However, the burden of failing to create a plan often falls onto the adult children. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation.

  • Be sensitive to your loved ones’ feelings. Remember that even though we all must eventually die, no one wants to dwell on thoughts of their own death while they are alive. So, talk first about putting a plan in place to preserve their choice and control by creating instructions in the event they become too ill to communicate with doctors or handle financial matters for themselves. Remind them that no one ever expects a medical emergency or accident to happen, but they do. Even if they are only willing to create financial powers of attorney and medical powers of attorney, that is a very important start. Then, when the time is right, the conversation can naturally progress to the importance of having documents in place that will make sure that their money and property pass to the people they want and in the way that they wish, provide for the care of any dependents or pets, and minimize any taxes, court costs, and legal fees. Help them understand that you want to make sure that they, not a court, are in control of what happens after they pass away, so you want to make sure all of their instructions are properly in writing to make sure that they are carried out.
  • Involve the whole family. Estate planning that includes the whole family promotes harmony after the parent passes away. Try to include any siblings in the discussion to avoid giving the impression that you are attempting to influence or control your parents’ choices. Emphasize that no one is asking about who gets what, that you just want to make sure that their wishes are carried out if they become ill or pass away, and that any attorney they hire to help will keep everything confidential – even from you – unless the attorney gets their permission to share.
  • Consult an estate planning attorney. Online wills are one-size-fits all, limited in what they can do, often don’t ask the right questions and are not necessarily valid in your state. The last thing a grieving family wants to experience is a will that the probate court won’t accept. Experienced estate planning attorneys listen to your concerns and wishes, and then help you and your loved ones create documents tailored to meet all your unique needs, by preparing an estate plan for the first time or updating an outdated one. We create a plan that will prevent unnecessary stress, legal expenses, and taxes, as well as uneven inheritances, disputes among loved ones, and delays in passing life savings on to them. The guidance we offer will give you and your loved ones the peace of mind that comes with knowing that, if you become ill there are already trusted people ready and willing to help and when you pass away, your wishes will be honored.

The estate planning and elder law attorneys at Duncan Galloway Greenwald PLLC are here to help you and guide you and your loved one through whatever issue is preventing them from putting a plan in place. Read more about our team and find contact information here.