We are often approached by clients, who have aging parents, to find out the best way to raise the topic of estate planning with their parents. Typically the client is in the process of drafting his or her own estate plan and they realize quickly how messy the administration of an estate can be if the proper plan is not in place. These clients are afraid to upset mom and/or dad or they believe that the response they will receive to their questions will be, “It is none of your business.” However, given that they might be the one who has to deal with the administration of mom and dad’s estate, they want to ensure a plan is in place so that the estate can be administered as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Truthfully, what is written in mom or dad’s estate plan is not any of the children’s business. But the children should be informed that there is a plan in place and the location of that plan. Doing so will help make sure things are taken care of properly.
Recently, I came across the following article on the Essential Questions for Aging Parents (click here for the article). What I found interesting about the article is that it suggests various ways to ask parents certain questions. The suggestions help pose the questions in a manner with which parents will hopefully be comfortable answering. Additionally, it provides a list of other questions you should raise with your parents that you might not have considered asking.
These conversations are difficult to have but are so very important to discuss. If you would like assistance in starting the conversation with your parents, you can also consider invoking the help of a professional advisor, such as a financial advisor, accountant or attorney.