As their parents age, many adult children know that they should discuss estate planning with them. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to start the conversation.
It’s important to bring up the conversation at the right time and with patience. The adult children can explain that they are trying to understand the parent’s wishes, so they can ensure they are met.
If there are siblings, it may be helpful to include them as well and to keep notes. It can help avoid family disputes later on.
It’s important for adult children to know whether their parent has a will, a trust or has named beneficiaries on their accounts. This can help them understand what happens with their assets and the legacy they want to leave. If the parent has estate planning documents, the adult children should ask where they are.
It may be helpful to encourage the parent to create a file that includes the name of their financial institutions, account numbers, life insurance and pension information, titles, credit card details, debts and other important information. Then, they can keep it in a safe place that is accessed after their death.
The file will be especially helpful if the adult child is named as the executor of the estate, since he or she will be responsible for managing their assets after death.
If the parent needs to create an estate plan or needs help to understand the estate administration process, there is assistance available to them. A short conversation and upfront planning can prevent complications in the future.