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How to Talk to Parents about Estate Planning

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Have the Talk with your Parents about Estate Planning.

With nearly 90% of caregivers providing care to a family member, and the holidays rapidly approaching, it is an opportune time to check in with both aging family members, as well as those performing caregiving duties.

Forbes’  article entitled “Holiday Season Tips For Caregivers” says that as the number of seniors in America continues to grow, we find ourselves on the verge of the largest transfer of wealth in history. It is estimated that 45 million Americans will transfer some $68 trillion to the next generation over the next 25 years.

As a result, having healthcare and estate planning conversations has become more important than ever.

Research from the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP shows that more than 50 million Americans currently serve as unpaid caregivers. This number has increased by nearly 25% since 2015. Statistically, baby boomers and women take on the biggest caregiving burden when it comes to providing care for aging family members. As life expectancy increases, and baby boomers advance well into senior years of their own, the need for caregiving will only continue to rise

Discussions about money and mortality can be challenging and emotional. Here are some tips on how to broach this sensitive subject with family and loved ones.

Schedule a time: This can be an overwhelming topic, but don’t ignore it. Scheduling dedicated time to open the dialogue and creating a timeline to complete the basic estate planning documents can make the process more manageable and keep everyone involved accountable.  Don’t expect to get everything settled at once.  It may take several conversations over time.

Take advantage of situational discussions:  A news story, a neighbor’s accident, the death of a friend, even a plot twist on a favorite TV show – these can all be situations that can lead to meaningful and helpful discussions about their healthcare wishes and estate plan.

Share your wealth of knowledge: Share your knowledge about what the documents mean, how and when they come into play, as well as what happens if there’s no estate plan in place. Remind them that this is their chance to ensure that their wishes are carried out.

Ask questions: Provided the person is in a sound state of mind, they’re in a position to lead the decision-making. Ask open-ended questions like what steps have already been taken and document as much as possible without judgment.

Use available resources: has a series of workbooks that can be downloaded for free.  These include their Conversation Starter Guide, What Matters to Me Workbook, and their Guide to Choosing a Healthcare Proxy.

Share your own plan: Sharing your ideas and discussing your own plans can ease tension and help eliminate fears. It shows others that they’re not alone in the planning process.

Leave the conversation open-ended: The key to these planning conversations is empathy because talking about these issues can provoke a variety of emotions. Reassure them that you’re available for future conversations and will plan to check back in at the times set forth in the timeline you created together.

Contact our office when you are ready to begin.

Reference: Forbes (Nov. 29, 2022) “Holiday Season Tips For Caregivers”

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