Holiday Talks, Part 3: Discussing Your Parents’ Estate Planning Needs

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

A Minneapolis Estate Planning Lawyer Helps You Talk To Your Parents About Their Estate Plan

As I discussed in Part I of this series, your parents may feel reluctant to discuss details of their estate plan.  For many personal matters such as finances and health care wishes are to remain private. But, it’s important to have this discussion so long as you are operating with the proper intentions.  That intention starts with the recognition that an inheritance is a gift, not a right.  Most estate planning is done for the purpose of making things easier on the ones we leave behind.  So, the discussion with your parents should be focused on their needs, not yours – with an eye towards making their intentions known, to avoid confusion and strife down the road.

It may be helpful to share your own experiences in estate planning.  What were your concerns, and how were they addressed?  You may find that some of the issues you uncovered while planning your estate – such as asset protection or health care proxy, are issues that have not been identified by your parents.

Many of my senior clients are very concerned with loss of control over their own matters. You too may find that your parents are concerned about issues of control – whether they’ll outlive their assets, have someone else make medical decisions, or be able to pay for long term care.  They’ve spent years handling all of their own matters and are afraid of facing a time when they my no longer have that option.

You can help calm their fears by explaining that estate planning is actually about retaining control. Discuss how they want to create a plan so that our wishes are carried out after their gone, or while they’re alive but not well.  The alternative is to relinquish that authority to the government or courts.  Encourage them to address those fears, rather than ignore them.  Suggest they meet with a skilled Minnesota estate planning attorney if they have not done so already.

Most of the time adult children are role players in their parents’ estate.  If one of your parent’s goals is for a smooth transition, it would be helpful for the players to know their roles, and to know what to do, when to do it, (and how much should it cost).  A period of grieving is no time to learn new skills and responsibilities or to guess at you’re your parents would want.  Encourage your parents to get their role players up to speed now.

Remember the focus of this conversation is on your parents and their concerns.  If your intentions are coming from the right place, your motivation should be in understanding your parent’s wishes and how to carry them out.  Sharing your experiences, being open to their concerns and preparing for the inevitable will go a long way towards avoiding potential pitfalls in your parents estate plan.

Contact an estate planning lawyer today to assist with this delicate subject.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.