Although it is not always easy to talk about estate planning, it is a necessary conversation for any adult child to have with their aging parent. The most effective way to start and work through this series of conversations is to approach them with objective facts and a positive focus on the future of the family. Estate planning does not have to be difficult or depressing, nor should it be confusing.
Because every individual, family, and asset pool is unique, it is important to include an experienced estate planning lawyer in this conversation. The lawyer can answer any questions that arise and guide the family through the estate planning process, which will make the probate process easier later. The following are a few guidelines for productive conversations about estate planning between parents and their adult children.
When an adult child is concerned about their parents’ assets and other issues related to estate planning, it is important that they express these concerns in a non-confrontational manner. These questions should be asked in calm, stress-free environments, such as over dinner or while spending time together at home, rather than during high-stress moments such as in the event of a health scare. Accusing parents of planning incorrectly or blaming them may cause them to shut down and avoid discussing the topic further. Instead, make it a priority to discuss how effective estate planning now will benefit every member of the family later.
Before talking to your parents about estate planning, it is important to take the time to learn about the estate planning process. Otherwise, the conversation is not likely to go very far. You can get the basics about estate planning online or, better yet, speak with an estate planning lawyer to gain a stronger understanding of the process.
Estate planning is a series of events, not just the development of a will. Over a series of conversations, parents and their adult children should talk about all the elements of estate planning, such as charitable giving, moving money into various types of trust, writing a will, and establishing power of attorney.
Keep in mind that a family’s situation can change drastically with the passage of time. Couples divorce, family members experience changes to their health, and aging parents can face different realities than the ones they initially anticipated. When estate planning is an ongoing dialogue, families can express new concerns as they arise and alter their plans to permit for changing circumstances. Assets might change ownership and accounts’ values can fluctuate in the years that follow the initial estate plan, which is why it is important to revisit this topic regularly.
It is never too soon to discuss the topic of estate planning with your parents. If you are unsure how to start the conversation, or have questions about the process, contact the Law Offices of Jayme L. Levy LLC to speak to an experienced and compassionate Towson estate planning lawyer. Call 410-512-6605 to arrange a personal consultation or contact us online. Our office is located in Towson, Maryland and we work with clients from Columbia, Ellicott City, Baltimore, and Towson, Maryland as well as those in Howard County, Maryland.