How to Discuss Estate Planning with Aging Parents

Anticipating an aging parent’s death is an unfortunate reality for adult children. One topic of conversation that adult children and their parents often avoid is estate plans. It is understandably awkward for families to broach this topic, because it directly confronts what the parents plan to do with their finances and assets. However, discussing the details of an estate plan in advance can save a lot of heartache down the road for surviving children. Among other things, an estate plan details how the parents wish their estate (assets) to be distributed after they die. Other factors addressed in an estate plan include details on how they plan to pay for their living expenses in retirement, including their long-term care needs. This is a crucial consideration, because 2019 data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that adults over 65 have a 70% chance of needing some kind of long-term care in their remaining years.

What Is an Estate Plan?

A comprehensive estate plan allows you to choose agents to act on your behalf in an unexpected medical emergency. It also protects your assets and beneficiaries from the probate process upon your death. An effective, enforceable estate plan is recommended to answer all the questions adult children may have regarding these details.

What Is Included in an Estate Plan?

If the details and reasoning of an estate plan are not explained to recipients in advance of the person’s death, serious conflict and hostility could arise among loved ones. For instance, parents might have good reason for giving more money to one grandchild than another, but if they neglected to make their rationale known before passing, it could be difficult to understand and accept the discrepancy once it’s made known to the family. Parents who neglect to make an estate plan, long-term care plans, or a will, risk creating confusion and hurt among their children.

Some of the questions you should ask your parents about their estate plans include:

  • Do you have a will?
  • Do you have a trust?
  • Have you chosen a durable power of attorney for healthcare?
  • Who is the executor of your estate plan?
  • Have you made a “Do Not Resuscitate” order (DNR)?
  • Where are these documents located?
  • If you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, who do you designate to make these choices for you?
  • Do you have the titles to all your assets, including vehicles or property?
  • Can you provide me with the account number, institution, and login information of your financial accounts?

If you do not currently know the answers to any of these questions, you are not alone. Fidelity Investments conducted a survey and found that 43% of parents said they they’d never had a detailed discussion about their long-term care plans. Another alarming statistic: While 69% of parents said they had discussed their will and estate plans with their children, 52% of children said that was not the case.

Looking to Make an Estate Plan? Contact Drexler Law for a Consultation.

While you can feasibly make an estate plan without a lawyer’s guidance, at Drexler Law, we highly recommend enlisting the help of a legal professional. Our attorneys are familiar with estate planning, and can provide guidance to adult children and/or their parents on how to formulate an effective, enforceable estate plan.

Get started on your estate plan today. Contact us at Drexler law for legal guidance by calling (719) 259-0050.