Communicating With Family About Their Estate Plan

In many typical families, death is a taboo topic. We simply do not want to imagine that the people we love will one day die. Unfortunately, the tendency to avoid this difficult subject can leave surviving family members in a tough position. Seniors without adequate long-term life planning may also encounter challenging financial problems.

Walser & Herman Law Firm offers our insight acquired during the more than three decades we have practiced estate planning and probate law. We can also help you get the conversation started with parents and other loved ones about creating an effective estate and long-term life plan.

Beginning the Conversation

Beginning the conversation is the toughest part. Once you put the subjects of death and planning on the table, you may find that communication naturally opens up or that your parents are relieved that you brought it up first. If you are uncomfortable having the big talk, consider instead interjecting the subject into brief conversations that flow naturally. Small conversations over the course of weeks may make the topic seem less heavy and urgent. Some people find broaching the subject in writing works better.

Asking the Difficult Questions

Before beginning the conversation, prepare your questions. Otherwise, starting a conversation that goes nowhere could be awkward and unproductive. Instead, direct the conversation to learn more about these important facts:

  • Last will and testament: Do your parents have a will? If so, where is it and who is the personal representative? Also, when is the last time they reviewed their will? Stress that an outdated will may not express their current wishes.
  • Updated beneficiaries: Families change through the years and so do the beneficiaries. Your parents may want to leave an inheritance to a newborn grandchild or help care for an adult child who now has a disability. Suggest that your parents update the beneficiaries named in their wills, life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
  • End of life decisions: Urge your parents to create their advanced directives, living wills, powers of attorney and organ donation cards if they have not already. Make sure you have quick access to these documents so you can react quickly should your parent become incapacitated and unable to make medical and financial decisions for her or himself.
  • Financial documents: Know what documents your parents have and where they are, including mortgages, tax returns, insurance policies, bank accounts and brokerage accounts. Your parents may not want to disclose account numbers, user names and passwords, but they can record this information in a secure place and give a trusted family member access.
  • Funeral and burial details: Your parents may want to follow certain religious or cultural rituals. Perhaps they want to be buried in special location. They may also have strong feelings about being buried or cremated. Your parents deserve to make these very intimate decisions themselves.

Speak to Your Loved Ones Openly About Your Estate and Long-Term Life Plans

Let our estate planning legal team answer any questions you have about estate and long-term life planning. Call our attorneys at 561.750.1040 at our Boca Raton main office or our Palm Beach office or send us an email.