As your parents age, you may need to have certain difficult conversations with them. One of those conversations is about what will happen to their estate after they die.
It is critical to talk to your parents about their end-of-life plans. It may seem like it is too soon, but you never know when it will become too late. There is a chance that your parents have not created an estate plan. If that is the case, encourage them to do so as soon as possible. Talking to your parents requires sensitivity and tact. Put them at ease with these three approaches.
Start the conversation by explaining your intentions. It may seem as if you are asking for a handout. Assure your parents that this is not the case. Your parents need an estate plan to make their wishes known. You are asking questions so you can understand the reasons behind those wishes. This is especially important if you have siblings. A conversation now can prevent a great deal of heartache later.
If your parents become unable to take care of their financial matters, someone needs to know how to step in. Your parents may not want to share certain information, such as account balances. That is fine; you do not need to know how much money is in each account. However, you or someone else to whom they grant this authority should know what bank and investment accounts they own. They should also share where they keep information about those accounts.
Talking about estate planning is not a one-time event. Be prepared for follow-up discussions. Parents may feel comfortable sharing only small pieces of information at a time. They may think they have told you everything you need to know, only to remember more later. There is also the possibility that talking to you may prompt them to draft new documents or revise outdated plans. Keep the lines of communication open.