As important as talking about estate planning is, almost nobody will tell you that doing so is easy. In fact, talking about estate planning is usually pretty difficult. We have written about many different approaches to talking to your heirs about your estate plan, but communication is an extremely important part of estate planning and works both ways. A recent article from The Week may help you find ways to approach talking to your parents about your inheritance. One of the most important things to remember is that even with a difficult topic like this, discussions about these things typically end on a good note. The following tips can help you strike the right chord when approaching estate planning with your parents.
Timing Is Key
The article points out that some individuals might be inclined to have discussions about serious family topics like inheritances during holiday visits. However, experts warn that it is important to remember that holidays are often already a stressful time for everyone and trying to have a serious discussion about something as important as estate planning might be rather difficult during these times. It could even end up striking the wrong tone and making any future discussions about the topic that much more difficult and unpleasant.
Instead, the article suggests choosing a quiet time of the year when there is not much else going on to distract from the importance of the topic. It is also important to remember that the discussion is not likely to be over in one session. You may need to revisit the topic down the road, so making sure you initially bring it up at the right time is important.
Approach It Correctly
Sitting your parents down and asking them how much they are worth is probably not the best way to begin such a serious and delicate conversation. Instead, the article points out you may want to start by discussing your parents’ health. From there, you can ask them if they have important healthcare related documents in place, such as a power of attorney and a HIPAA release. This will help you ultimately begin discussing whether or not a formal Will is in place and what exactly that means for you and other potential heirs. Make sure to include important questions, such as how they want their affairs to be handled if they are incapacitated. Expressing care and concern for your parents’ well-being is a good way to start talking about an otherwise difficult subject.
Know When to Stop
As much as finding the right time to begin the discussion is important, so is knowing when to end it. Your parents could very well tell you that your interest in their estate is none of your business, and pushing the subject is not likely to change their mind. You may also have a successful initial discussion that can go downhill quickly if you find a sensitive topic and do not move past it. That is not to say you should not continue to be concerned in these types of situations, but making sure to time your discussions correctly and pull back when it is appropriate can have benefits beyond simply having a better understanding of what your inheritance might look like. It can also help you notice potential estate planning pitfalls or other financial concerns before they become serious issues.