Aging Parents – How to Talk to Them About Estate Planning

What’s the best way to bring up the subject of estate planning with parents?

Broaching the subject of estate planning with our aging parents can be difficult. Both sides may be reluctant to discuss difficult topics involving final affairs. It can be much more difficult however, if your loved ones pass without a plan in place and to watch their legacy be destroyed.

What happens when you don’t have an estate plan?

The reality is without an estate plan in place – which goes well beyond signing a will – there is an extremely high probability that you will end up in probate court where you will have to stand up and prove to a judge that you have a right to your parents’ property.

You may end up having to hire a lawyer and fight for your rights to inherit your parents’ estate. This can make an already challenging time that much harder as you are forced to deal with expensive complications that take away from where the focus should be – family.

Here are a few ideas about how to begin this difficult but absolutely necessary conversation:

Start General

You don’t need to plan every detail today. Begin the conversation around what’s important – protecting your parents’ legacy and preventing the need to end up in probate court where you may have to fight creditors, strangers, even other potentially disgruntled family members for your inheritance. Feel free to reference your own estate plans, concerns or any research you have on the topic that can provide concrete information on the subject.

More than Money

Estate planning is about so much more than money. While your parents may not feel the rush to divide their assets today, you can explain that having a personalized estate plan gives all of you protection for much more important issues as well. While uncomfortable to think about, your parents need to decide who they would want making potentially life or death decisions for them. With a properly designed and implemented plan in place, your parents will control who is able to make financial and healthcare decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated or are in an end-of-life situation. Without a plan, someone might petition the court for control of their assets, medical care and other matters—someone they would never have wanted to make critical decisions for them.

Don’t Procrastinate – Ask for Help

Despite the importance of creating a plan, procrastination is the number one mistake made in estate planning. Whether that stems from a fear of facing death and illness or the feeling of not knowing where to begin, 40 percent of Americans will end up without an estate plan of any kind. However, you don’t have to take on this daunting process alone. It can ease everyone’s mind to know that there are experts that can guide you through the next steps. You just need to decide together not to put it off any longer.

As California estate planning attorneys, we take a highly personal approach to estate planning. For example, we devote the necessary time to gain a thorough understanding of your particular goals and concerns. We will also explain all of your options in clear, easy to understand language. Only when we fully understand your unique situation, and you understand the options available to you, do we design a customized plan. One capable of addressing all of your needs and achieving your most important goals.

What Do We Do?

The lawyers and staff at CunninghamLegal help people plan for some of the most difficult times in their lives; then we guide them when those times come.

Make an appointment to meet with CunninghamLegal for California Estate Planning and Trust Administration. We have offices throughout California, and we offer in-person, phone, and Zoom appointments. Just call (866) 988-3956 or (530) 269-1515, or book an appointment online.

Please also consider joining one of our free online Estate Planning Webinars.

We look forward to working with you!

Best, Jim
James Cunningham Jr., Esq.
Founder, CunninghamLegal

At CunninghamLegal, we guide savvy, caring families in the protection and transfer of multi-generational wealth.