Initiating Estate Planning Conversations with Aging Parents

July 15, 2020

Both aging parents and adult children may be apprehensive about broaching topics related to long term care, incapacity and/or estate planning. Children may not want to appear greedy while aging parents may not want to show any vulnerability.

The problem with silence is that it often leads to later conflict. At least knowing a parent’s wishes helps promote harmony even if everyone involved fails to understand the reasons behind those wishes. It is best if these conversations take place while the parent is still of sound mind. Once signs of dementia set in, it may be too late.

Tips for Initiating these Conversations:

1. Request the meeting in advance and set a time/place that is comfortable and appropriate.

2. During the meeting, ask questions but respect your parents’ privacy as needed. For example, you do not necessarily need to know specific numbers as they relate to their finances. You need enough information to ensure they can accomplish their long term goals, but not every detail regarding their net worth.

3. Start out by determining what estate planning has been done thus far. Do they have an existing will, trust, power of attorney or any other type of estate planning document(s)? Ask who they have chosen as executor and/or trustee.

4. Discuss their wishes for long term care. Take notes during the conversation so you have something to reference later. Do they want to be in a nursing facility or do they prefer in-home care? Is there as specific facility or location they desire? Is there a particular person they want as a caregiver?

5. Determine whether they have long term care insurance. You may want to ask someone knowledgeable in this area to review the policy to ensure its terms match their long term care goals.

6. What are your parents wishes for burial/cremation and funeral/celebration of life services?

A few final tips to make these conversations go smoothly:

- Include all relevant family members

- Take accurate notes

- Be patient

- Empathize

- Do not argue with them, and

- Consult an experienced estate planning attorney like Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area.

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