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Three tips for discussing estate planning with an aging parent

Talking about estate planning with aging parents can be awkward and troubling. For adult children, it can be almost as uncomfortable as your parents were talking about the birds and the bees with you. Despite this dual sense of awkwardness, there is a way to broach these topics, and we will give some helpful tips through this post.

Maintain respect – Despite your age, maturity and life accomplishment, parents may still feel like parents. In essence, they still want to be respected as the providers they were  when you were little, even though it may have been 30 to 30 years ago. So when discussing their estate plan, it is important to maintain an air of respect.

Don’t be disingenuous – Let’s face it, no one likes to be looked at as extra baggage that stands in the way of a fortune. But if you approach the discussion with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude, chances are that your discussion won’t go anywhere. Instead, it may be helpful to talk about what is important to them in leaving a legacy, or what they want to be remembered for. These are much more likely to elicit a response and spark a fruitful discussion than questions about how much money is being left.

A crisis is not necessary – Since you don’t want to look like a greedy sibling trying to move in on a parent’s fortune, don’t wait for a major health crisis to cover estate planning topics. Instead, use the opportunity as a chance to show how important their contributions will continue to be.


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