6 Tips to Start Talking with Your Aging Parents About Estate Planning

We all need estate planning, but nothing holds more true than when we are talking about our aging parents.

As we age, we can become more at risk of injury, falls, and other health care complications. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, and dementia are much more likely to impact us after the age of seventy years old. Although these issues can impact any of us at any time, it is no secret that Older Americans can be more susceptible to these challenges. 

Concern for the future is just one of the reasons why you need to talk to your aging parents about Florida estate planning.

Estate planning can provide the foundation for both the legacy your parents want to leave in the future and how they want their affairs handled in a crisis. In the former situation, estate planning tools such as a trust agreement can ensure that their legacy can be created and funded, while in the latter situation, tools such as the durable power of attorney can ensure there is a person with legal authority to make decisions in a crisis.

Discussing a future that could include both incapacity and death, can be difficult for any of us. Let us share with you six tips you can use with your aging parents to hold a meaningful conversation that can ensure everyone is protected and provided for both now and in the future.

1. Find a time when there are no interruptions. Conversations like these should not be rushed. Schedule a time to meet when everyone can be involved with limited interruptions. This can be difficult when one or more people have work responsibilities, minor children, or any other combination of distractions. Remember that this is important and make the commitment to have this meeting. 

2. Make sure all who should be involved are present. Family members, spouses, friends, or trusted advisors may all need to be a part of this conversation. Before you schedule a meeting with your parents, ask them who they want to be present and make sure everyone is able to attend.

3. Discuss current choices for decision makers. Who your parents want to act for them in the event of incapacity or death may change over time. Ask them who they want to rely on. Also, bring the selected decision makers into the conversation, as well, to ensure that the selected person or persons are able to act in this capacity as well.

4. Discuss the difference between healthcare and financial decisions. There are different types of decisions that need to be made. One person in your parents’ inner circle may be more comfortable making certain types of decisions or have special knowledge that uniquely qualifies this person to act. Discuss the responsibilities involved and the knowledge that may be needed together, as well as the person’s availability to act in a crisis.

5. Review existing estate planning. Your parents may already have estate planning in place. Is it current? Is it from the state of Florida? Does it accurately reflect their wishes? Have there been substantial changes that need to be addressed?

6. Meet with your parents’ attorney. There is never a wrong time to involve your parents’ estate planning attorney. He or she will have insight on how to plan forward to make sure your parents’ needs are met. Do not wait to prepare your questions and attend this meeting with your parents’ permission.

We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers. It may not be easy to start a conversation about estate planning with your parents but it is critical to do so in advance of a crisis. We encourage you to reach out to our office and schedule a meeting to discuss your estate planning questions.