Your parents need a will. How to convince them it's time.

Your parents need a will. How to convince them it's time.

Carrie Pallardy
Carrie Pallardy
 | 

Less than half of American adults have a will. You may already have gone through the process of setting up a will for yourself, but what about your parents? 

As you enter adulthood, your parents are likely taking new steps in their lives, like considering retirement and becoming grandparents. While it is difficult to imagine a time when your parents will no longer be with you, a discussion about the future can help to prepare your family.

Why do your parents need a will, and how can you convince them it is time to take that step?

Why Estate Planning Matters

A will ensures that your parents’ wishes are carried out after their deaths. The death of a loved one is a devastating experience that is only made worse when complicated by legal matters.

Without a will, surviving family members (you and your siblings) do not know what their loved one intended to happen to their belongings. In most cases, a court will determine how your parent’s assets are divided.

Will vs. Trust

You have probably heard the terms “will” and “trust” used in connection to estate planning. What is the difference? Do your parents need both? 

·         Will. As you know, a will outlines an individual’s wishes following their death. This can include funeral arrangements and division of assets.

·         Trust. A trust is designed to protect assets. Your parents can create a trust and designate someone, such as an adult child, as the owner of the assets in that trust following their death.

Your parents can set up both a will and a trust. Trusts are often used by people who have considerable assets.

How to Talk to Your Parents

It can be tough to know how to start a conversation about your parents’ future. Consider asking questions like:

When is a good time to talk about the future?

Having a discussion about estate planning is important, but you don’t want your parents to feel unprepared.

 Tell them you would like to set up a time to talk about preparing a will. Allow them some time to think before diving into the process of estate planning.

  • Have you ever thought about creating a will? Once you start talking about setting up a will, ask your parents if they have ever started the process. Do they have an idea of how they want to write their will and of what it will cover?
  • What are your concerns? While your parents’ will is meant to help you in the event of their passing, consider keeping the conversation focused on your parents’ wants and needs. How do they feel about setting up a will? What are their concerns for the future?

Making Decisions Together

A will determines how your parents’ assets will be divided after their deaths. They, of course, have the right to decide who gets what. But, your parents may need your help making decisions as they age.

The topics of a living will and power of attorney are worth bringing up during your discussion. A living will is a legal document that outlines your parents’ wishes in regard to healthcare. This enables them to outline how they want their end-of-life care handled.

Power of attorney allows a designated person to make healthcare decisions on behalf of your parent if he or she cannot do so. For example, someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease cannot make decisions about their medical care.

Ask your parents if they want to consider a living will and power of attorney as a part of their estate planning process.

After you and your parents are on the same page, it will be time for them to sit down and make their will (and potentially a trust). The right attorney can help set your family’s mind at ease so you can focus on enjoying the time you have together right now.   

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Carrie Pallardy

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