COVID-19: How to Talk to Your Parents & Grandparents About Estate Planning
The COVID-19 pandemic reminded many Americans that life is unpredictable. As evident from recent reports in the surge of the demand for Wills, the coronavirus pandemic has many Americans wondering if their families will be ready upon their death.
While an increasing number of Americans move to secure their future, many are still refusing to think of death and keep postponing their estate planning. But is there anything you can say to your parents or grandparents to make them understand the importance of creating an estate plan?
No, the Conversation Will Not Be Easy
Thinking about the death of a parent can be overwhelming, which is why many people choose to avoid this topic altogether. According to a 2016 study by Independent Age, people avoid discussing estate planning, or anything related to death, with their loved ones because:
- The lack of knowledge;
- Inability to predict the family member’s reaction;
- Avoidance of undesirable possibilities; and
- The feeling that the timing is not right.
However, if these unprecedented and unpredictable times have taught us anything, it is that no one knows what’s going to happen to you in a week or month, which is why it is essential to have estate planning documents in place to protect yourself and your family.
6 Tips for Talking to Your Loved Ones About Estate Planning
How do you bring up this sensitive topic when talking to your parents, grandparents, or loved ones? Moreover, how do you handle this conversation without seeming self-serving?
- Be Patient and Find the Right Time
Bringing up a topic like this is not easy. After all, your parents may be private people and you cannot just them and say, “Hey, do you have a Will?” This should be an ongoing conversation. If it does not go well the first time, do not give up. Make sure you maintain patience and have a positive attitude.
- Don’t Put Pressure
The purpose of discussing estate planning is to put your parent or grandparent’s assets and property in order. When creating an estate plan, the testator is facing many tough decisions, so you should not argue with your loved ones or put any pressure on them. Otherwise, you might be accused of “undue influence,” which could make the documents invalid.
- Keep Other Family Members in the Loop
Failure to include siblings and other family members in this conversation might make the prospective beneficiaries suspect that you are trying to assert undue influence or are trying to control your parent’s or grandparent’s decisions. This might trigger unnecessary probate litigation. You need to make sure that all family members are on the same page, but if they are not, it is even more important that an attorney get involved so that an undue influence claim is more difficult to assert.
- Empathize and Listen
The ability to empathize and listen will make a huge difference in these conversations with your parents or grandparents. Talking about death is never easy, which is why you must exercise compassion and empathy. Your loved ones need to be able to express their feelings and emotions without judgment.
- Consult with an Attorney
Besides assisting you with drafting your legal documents, an attorney can also mediate the conversation and help address questions related to estate planning. Working with an attorney can take the pressure off of you to have to ask the difficult questions. An experienced attorney will be able to efficiently work with a client that is hesitant to discuss end-of-life planning.
- Don’t Postpone the Conversation
Some people make the common mistake of waiting until their parents or grandparents are no longer mentally or physically capable of creating estate planning documents or even expressing their wishes. For this reason, do not postpone the conversation. Talk to your loved ones when they are still healthy and able.
Reach out to our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyers to help mediate the conversation and assist you with legal documents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact our lawyers at 727-471-5868 for a telephone or video conference.