Talking to parents about estate planning can be difficult – for you and them. This probably was not a topic discussed over the dinner table growing up, making it even more awkward now. This is especially true if your parents were alive during the Great Depression. Oftentimes, elderly parents of this generation are extremely private about their financial affairs – and they particularly don’t feel comfortable talking to their own children about financial matters.
How to Approach the Topic of Financial Planning With Your Parents
When considering how to broach the subject of estate planning with your parents, it’s important to consider their personalities. This will allow you to choose an approach that they are most likely to respond favorably to.
- Timing. If you think that your parents might feel ambushed if you bring up the subject out of the blue, set up a family meeting to discuss estate planning. Definitely avoid doing it during other family gatherings – holidays and other special occasions would not be an appropriate platform for these discussions.
- Tell a story. In order to start the conversation, you can tell your parents about your own plans and ask them what they are doing for themselves. Or you can illustrate the perils of not having their affairs in order by telling them a story about people who didn’t plan ahead and the consequences they suffered.
- Get professional help. If your parents don’t feel comfortable discussing their finances with you, get a professional – like an attorney, a financial planner or the family accountant – to help you start the conversation.
- Appeal to your parents’ personalities. If your parents are sentimental, you can explain to them that if they plan ahead, they can ensure each of their children receive treasured family heirlooms. If your parents are controlling, remind them that they don’t want to allow a stranger to make their decisions for them. Whichever approach you choose, make sure that it is one that your parents will understand and respond to.
Although a conversation about estate planning may be a difficult one to begin with your parents, having such a discussion ensures their wishes will be honored.