If you're anything like most people with aging parents, just reading the title of this blog post probably made you cringe. Talking to parents about finances is hard no matter what, but talking to parents about what will happen to their money after they pass away? That's downright terrifying. There are a number of reasons that this topic is so often avoided. For parents, perhaps they haven't managed their money as well as they had hoped. They may feel embarrassed to bring up the subject. For adult children, it may feel difficult to bring up estate planning without coming off as greedy or nosy. While these conversations are certainly not easy, they are necessary. Read the tips below for a few ways to make the conversation a little bit less painful.
First, set up a time to talk, and let your parent(s) know what you'd like to discuss. While it may be tempting, this isn't a conversation you randomly want to launch over dinner when you're feeling particularly courageous. You want to give your parent(s) time to mentally prepare themselves. If they have not considered estate planning up until this point, they might want some time to meet with an estate-planning attorney.
Second, focus the conversation on your parent(s) wishes, not on what you or your siblings will get out of the deal. Simply asking your parents if they've thought about estate planning services is a good way to open the conversation. Reassure mom and/or dad that you simply want to make sure that their wishes are carried out after they pass away. Prepare yourself to put on a happy face if you don't get what you want- this is about their wishes, not about a payout for your family. Avoid asking "why" questions, as this is likely to put your parent(s) on the defensive. While you may not understand the reasoning behind their wishes, you also are not in a place to question what they want.
Third, consider past conversations that you've had with your parents about money. If you've come to them for money before, it's easy for them to assume that that is where a conversation about estate planning is headed. Depending on your history, it may be a good idea to let them know that you're not asking for anything.
While these conversations are never easy, reassure yourself that you're doing the right thing. If you need help getting started, call Betsy Larson Law, serving Minneapolis/St Paul Metro Area (Twin Cities), Minnesota.