“In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes,” as Benjamin Franklin once said. Indeed, we cannot escape the reality that we will all die someday. And consequently, we will certainly have to pay taxes.
This reality can hit exceptionally close to home for those of us with elderly parents. Caring for an elderly parent is hard enough, but there are additional responsibilities that will eventually come with closing out mom or dad’s estate and overseeing any final affairs. Unfortunately, adult children can get so caught up in managing mom or dad’s day-to-day affairs that they neglect to have conversations with their parents about any wishes for their estate.
In my experience, I’ve found that older parents are often hesitant to confront the topic as well. No one really likes to think about, let alone plan for, their death. And, in many cases, older parents struggle to talk about their estate because they may feel bad about the responsibilities that will eventually fall to their kids. Perhaps they know that conflicts are bound to arise amongst siblings, or they simply do not want to be a burden to their family, even after they are gone.
While all of these feelings are natural, having a conversation with your parents about their finances, memorial wishes, and estate planning objectives is one of the most empowering and loving things you can do for them. It’s important to remind your parents that you simply want to honor their wishes and ensure things go as smoothly as possible in their final days.
How to Start the Conversation
You may start by explaining to your parents that putting their affairs in order is not about death. Instead, it’s about making sure things get done their way in accordance with the laws here in Florida. You may also educate them on why having a will is the responsible thing to do and why refusing to have one simply invites chaos. Your parents surely do not want to see you and your siblings fight over money, property, and other material possessions. Nor would they like want you spending months, if not years struggling to administer their estate in court.
Your parents will definitely appreciate your intentions if you can acknowledge that the property and money they acquired through their hard work is theirs and not yours. Make them understand that you are just assisting them to plan their estate so they can have total control of how their assets are to be distributed.
We also encourage adult children to ask their parents if they have any of the following estate planning documents in place and the location where they may be stored:
- Advance Directive
- Living Trust
- Power of Attorney
If they do not have these documents, you can explain to them the benefits of having each.
Encourage Your Parents to Seek Help from an Estate Planning Attorney
If you are still having difficulty discussing end-of-life affairs with an aging parent, you may benefit from meeting with an experienced estate planning lawyer who can provide information to your parents about the advantages of planning their estate without making them feel constrained.
By encouraging them to talk with an attorney, you also help your parents take immediate steps to protect their assets so there isn’t a lot of money wasted on unnecessary legal fees or taxes. Likewise, the probability of a contested will, a painful probate process, or chaos within the family can be minimized with the guidance of a competent estate planning attorney.
Our Tampa will attorneys at the Law Office of Laurie E. Ohall would be happy to sit down with you and your parents to discuss such estate planning objectives and create a plan that ultimately honors mom or dad’s wishes. If you’d like assistance in getting started, contact us at (813) 438-8503 to schedule a consultation.