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Discussing Estate Planning with Hesitant Parents

Discussing Estate Planning with Hesitant Parents - How to Get the Process Started

by Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. 4.2.23

Estate Planning Rhode Island
Attorney RJ Connelly III

"I often encounter younger couples seeking advice on how to broach the topic of estate planning with their aging parents," shared professional fiduciary and certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "I had a situation recently where a son and daughter approached me about their parents' estate planning. The couple owned properties in Rhode Island and Martha's Vineyard, with a combined value exceeding several million dollars. Despite the children's efforts to emphasize the importance of creating a will and comprehensive estate plan, their parents refused to discuss the matter."

"The family's son indicated that they had recently engaged in a discussion regarding the current state of the economy and the financial implications associated with long-term care as a means of introducing the topic," noted Attorney Connelly. "The atmosphere shifted noticeably when the conversation turned to estate planning. Both parents seemed visibly upset and quickly redirected the discussion to another topic."

Discussing estate planning with hesitant parents can be a daunting and complex task for many individuals. Nevertheless, developing a well-crafted plan can mitigate confusion and offer guidance as we confront end-of-life matters. Furthermore, it can aid in minimizing unnecessary legal expenses, taxes, and asset distribution delays.

Estate Planning Massachusetts
Estate planning is important

"Estate planning becomes crucial as we approach the later stages of our lives, encompassing critical decisions related to healthcare and finances," explained Attorney Connelly. "This encompasses determining the desired medical treatment, how it will be funded, and making choices regarding advance directives for life support. When transferring assets to beneficiaries, financial considerations may involve Medicaid, Estate, and tax planning."

Attorney Connelly further underscored the significance of estate planning, particularly its inclusion of directives for funeral service arrangements and the specific handling of remains. While some individuals provide detailed instructions for their funeral services, others prefer to delegate these decisions to their family members or close associates. For those who are unwilling to acknowledge the inevitability of death, broaching the subject with parents who may be in denial can be a distressing experience. So, how can we begin the conversation?

Getting Ready to Talk

Discussing estate planning with parents who are unwilling to face the future or acknowledge their mortality can be quite challenging. However, Attorney Connelly offers valuable tips to help you prepare for this discussion.

Estate Planning Connecticut
Prepare to discuss as a family
  1. Make sure to become familiar with the main estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, and understand their purposes and functions. This will help you to develop an outline of your parents' preferences for their estate plan and how they want it to operate.

  2. Gathering as a family to develop an estate plan can effectively advance the process and reassure hesitant parents. This collaborative approach allows everyone to contribute their thoughts and concerns, ensuring that the final plan reflects the needs and wishes of the entire family.

  3. It's important to schedule a meeting with an elder law attorney specializing in estate planning to ensure your plan is comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects. When parents feel confident they've thoroughly prepared, they may be more inclined to proceed with the plan.

What's Already in Place?

When you're preparing to broach the topic of estate planning with your parents, it's beneficial to initiate the conversation by asking if they have any existing estate planning documents. Here are some key questions to consider:

  1. Do you currently have any estate planning documents in place, and if so, where are they located?

  2. If you cannot make decisions for yourself, who would you like to appoint as the decision-maker for your healthcare?

  3. What are your specific medical and end-of-life preferences?

  4. How would you like your physical and non-physical assets distributed following your passing? Additionally, who would you trust to oversee the distribution of your assets?

A Final Word

"Estate planning is a continuous and evolving process that should adapt to changing conditions and family dynamics," explained Attorney Connelly. "It's crucial to review the documents periodically to ensure they align with your current situation. For instance, if the person designated to make healthcare decisions for you is no longer available, it's important to appoint someone else to fulfill that role. This is also an opportune time to reassess all individuals named in the plan. While these conversations may be sensitive, it's essential to understand that a well-crafted estate plan provides peace of mind for everyone involved as they navigate the end-of-life process for their loved ones."

Estate Planning Martha's Vineyard

Please note that the information provided in this blog is not intended to and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The content, materials, and information presented in this blog are solely for general informational purposes and may not be the most up-to-date information available regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. This blog may also contain links to other third-party websites that are included for the convenience of the reader or user. Please note that Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. does not necessarily recommend or endorse the contents of such third-party sites. If you have any particular legal matters, financial concerns, or medical issues, we strongly advise you to consult your attorney, professional fiduciary advisor, or medical provider.

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