As fall ticks over into winter and Christmas music begins to dominate the airwaves many folks are looking forward to finally sharing holiday time with family. Last year many gatherings were put off or limited to small groups out of necessary precaution and so this year brings special joy and, for some, special pressure. After all, the holidays are not just a chance to connect but also a chance to have those family conversations that require everyone’s input. Mom’s and dad’s estate plan is this type of conversation and while the topic may be uncomfortable, this discomfort pales in comparison to the consequences of leaving it until it’s too late. Nobody relishes talking to their parents about estate planning but failing to do so can breed family misunderstandings that may never heal.
Three Steps to Talking About Estate Planning Without Ruining the Holidays
1. Plan Ahead and Be Inclusive
Nobody reacts well to being thrust into discomfort. Your parents may even be less excited about addressing their estate plan than you and so it is important to broach the subject with grace. Part of doing this is thinking carefully about how best to begin, and another part is knowing what you will want to talk about once rolling. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help both by sharing the approaches that have worked for other families and by detailing the topics that need to be covered.
As you plan how to make this an inviting, supportive conversation you also need to take care to involve all affected parties. Usually, this means sibling but may also include others named in your parents’ last will and testament.
At this preliminary stage, it is fairness that matters most. You want to make sure that everyone feels like an equal participant and has ample space to share their voice. Estate planning is, above all, about caring for loved ones and so it is crucial that this sentiment be present from the very beginning. Springing the subject on your siblings will be no more effective than springing it on your parents and so it is important that you share your intentions.
2. Don’t Expect Immediate Results
Estate planning involves some of the most important decisions a person will ever make. What comes of financial and sentimental assets will have a lasting, irremediable impact on loves ones and so it is natural that your parents act with care.
In this initial conversation, aim to table important subjects like choosing an executor and medical/financial power of attorney. Be sure to also create space for everyone to share their needs, concerns, and hopes. Approach the subject of money with care and only if the timing is right. Don’t plan on covering everything but do plan on scheduling a follow-up.
Estate planning cannot be rushed but nor can it be delayed. After all, no one knows what tomorrow may bring and nobody wants to be caught unprepared.
3. Work with a Professional
An experienced estate planning lawyer does much more than ensure your parents’ last will and testament is properly executed. Drawing on decades of experience, they help your family overcome hurdles and ensure no oversights are made.
Each estate plan is as unique as the individual it represents, and every state has its own nuanced legislation. Mistakes in your planning will leave your family mired in an expensive and trying probate process at best or irreparable conflict at worst. Experienced counsel helps avoid all of this.
To learn more about talking to your parents about estate planning or to address any other issue related to the subject, do not hesitate to reach out to the Deliberato Law Center either by calling our office at (216) 341-3413 or using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center