No matter how close you are to your parents, it can be very difficult to discuss certain topics with them, like the topics of estate planning and end-of-life care choices. Because of this, many adult children never talk to their parents about things like their wills, trusts or advanced care directives.
However, for a few reasons we discuss below, it can be crucial that you make a concerted effort to sit down with your parents and have a discussion about estate planning.
- Waiting too long can leave their decisions subject to contest. If your parent doesn’t have a will or if he or she has multiple wills, then decisions regarding property distribution, guardianship and other issues can be left to the courts, which may not align with what you think your parent would have wanted. Further, concerns about your parent’s mental capacity at the time he or she created a will could spark will contests. Talk to parents about this sooner, rather than later, to confirm that they have a plan in place and that it is validly executed and enforceable.
- You may have questions that need answers. After a parent passes away, you cannot ask them about their wishes or what intentions they had for the distribution of their assets. Discussing these things with them now gives you the opportunity to ask questions and them the opportunity to explain.
- You can help them identify any issues or vulnerabilities. You might learn that they don’t have a power of attorney in place, or that they haven’t addressed their digital assets and access. You may have knowledge or a perspective that they don’t, which can make you a valuable resource.
For these and other reasons, it can be of great benefit to you and your parents to discuss their estate plans and end-of-life decisions. While this can seem difficult and uncomfortable, there are ways to approach the topic to make it a little easier, including the tips mentioned in this FINRA article about talking to your parents about money.
If there are any questions or concerns that come up through these discussions, you and/or your parents should reach out to an attorney for legal advice and guidance.