It is wise to talk to your loved ones about your will and estate plan. This goes for parents who are making the plan and for children who need to stay in the loop. This conversation, in an ideal world, should be an ongoing one.
Unfortunately, the reality is that most people never talk about it. It feels awkward. It feels forced. In many cases, children feel greedy to even ask.
After all, what is your goal when you ask if your parents have a will? Are you just trying to find out what is in it for you? Are you acting eager to see them pass away so that you can get an inheritance that changes your life? Do you sound like an ungrateful child who only has an interest in material possessions?
None of that may be true. However, that is how many people feel about these conversations, whether it is true or not, which is why they do not start them. The key is to keep the right perspective and approach the conversation with the right goals in mind. By asking about estate planning, you should be trying to:
- Get the discussion started and open up that difficult subject.
- Give yourself the ability to carry out your parents’ wishes properly.
- Protect your siblings and other members of your family from frustration and confusion in the future.
- Discover whether or not your parents have started planning for the end of their lives and thought through all that it entails.
In short, you are simply trying to help your family. Yes, it is a tough subject and yes, many people feel awkward talking about it. With the right perspective, though, you can get over this hurdle and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Tips for bringing it up
Even if you know your reasons are pure, it can feel difficult to bring it up. How do you mention it tactfully?
One good option is to use a celebrity story as a segue. Perhaps a celebrity your parents liked passed away without a will. You can simply mention how chaotic it must have been and how you do not want that to happen to your family. You can then ask your parents if they have a will.
Another option is to do your estate planning yourself. No matter your age, it is not too early. Write your own will, mention to your parents that you did so, and ask them if they did the same. This makes it clear that you think the process is important and you are not just trying to find out what they’re leaving you.
As your family works through this process, make sure everyone is well aware of their legal options. Planning in advance makes everything go more smoothly.