Discussions about end-of-life care, dying and distribution of property can be uncomfortable for many people. People don’t like to think about these things; bringing them up with your parent can feel intrusive and awkward.
However, avoiding these discussions can have numerous long-term consequences, including the increased potential for estate litigation. If you are on the fence about talking to your parent about their wishes or estate plans, consider why doing so can be critical.
- You can ensure they have a plan in place. Even if your parent does not disclose the details of his or her will or other documents, knowing they have them can be profoundly reassuring. One of the most significant estate planning mistakes people make is not having one in place. Make sure your parent knows how important it is to complete an estate plan.
- It allows you to ask questions. After a parent’s death, you can be left without critical answers. As such, discussing their plans now gives you a chance to ask questions. Why did they make the decisions they made? What are their hopes for their legacy? How are they safeguarding essential documents? These are the types of questions that, without answers, can cause considerable distress among loved ones.
- You can attest to his or her mental clarity at the time. Having a clear, open discussion with your parent when he or she is healthy allows you to confirm his or her mental condition. If they pass away or become incapacitated, that discussion can make it easier to avoid disputes challenging your parent’s testamentary capacity.
- You can address any oversights sooner, rather than later. Talking to parents can alert you to possible omissions in their planning. Through your conversation, you might learn that he or she has not updated a will in a long time or that he or she has yet to fund a trust, for instance. Should you discover oversights, your parents can take steps to address them.
Discussing your parent’s estate plan may not be high on your list of enjoyable ways to spend your time. However, doing so can provide immeasurable comfort and guidance during an upsetting time.