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How to talk to your parents about estate planning

As your parents grow older, their well-being during their later life will become a bigger priority for you. If you are concerned that your aging parents have not yet created an estate plan or are not taking the appropriate steps to plan for mental incapacity, you will likely want to have a conversation about this with them.

Conversations about this topic can be very sensitive. Sometimes, parents can get upset or defensive when talking about these topics. Therefore, you must take the time to consider the right approach before taking action. The following are some tips for having a conversation with your parents about estate planning.

Learn about what actions they have taken so far

Don't simply assume that your parents haven't been planning their estate because they haven't spoken to you about it. Estate planning can be a very private process. Even if they have not taken concrete action to plan their estate, they may still have reflected deeply on it. They may become defensive if you simply assume that they have not given it a second thought.

Make it clear that you have good intentions

You love your parents and you have their best interests at heart. You should, therefore, make this clear in your communication. If you are concerned because they have not put in place a Durable Power of Attorney for health care, you should raise this issue with them and explain how it could benefit their lives. You may also want to explain the importance of having your preferences known when it comes to health care. For example, they may wish to put in place a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR).

Communicate that you are here to help

Let your parents know that you can help them to start the process of estate planning if they feel overwhelmed by it all. They may feel that they do not know where to start or how to state their wishes. By facilitating the process, you can help them to have their wishes formalized.

If you are in the process of helping your parents plan their estate, make sure that you have a good understanding of the law of the estate planning options available.

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