When it comes to estate planning, is there a right or wrong way to discuss it without putting the parent on the defensive?  Estate planning, in general, is an uncomfortable but necessary subject to cover, especially when one of the parties involved is not cooperative.  Find out the best ways to approach the topic as well as suggestions on getting the task completed.


What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning prepares for the event of one’s death or incapacitation.  It is the tasks that are required in order to tend to an individual’s business if the individual was not able to do it for themselves.  It allows for wishes to be carried out in various manners such as the bequest of assets to heirs and estate tax settlements.  Without estate planning, the event of death or incapacitation can wreak sheer havoc at a time of grief and often times puts family members at odds unnecessarily.  Estate plans are generally set up by attorneys who specialize in the field of estate law in New York like the professionals at Moses Elder Law.

Ten Tips for Talking to a Parent about Estate Planning

Most people get uneasy when estate planning becomes the topic of conversation.  Generally, though, it’s a parent talking to an adult child about the details.  But when the tables are turned and an adult child is talking to a parent about estate planning, the situation can really be awkward, especially when the parent becomes defensive.  Here are some ideas that can greatly smooth over the rough edges:


1.Empower your parent.  Be sure your parent knows that he or she has the power to make the decisions estate planning will entail and that you are not trying to control or manipulate the outcome.

2.Be calm.  The tone that you set will go a long way.  If you are chaotic, dramatic or angry, the mood will, no doubt, spill over.  On the other hand, if you are calm, cool, and collected, chances are your parent will be as well.

3.Psychology of Posture.  The way in which one stands and the setting in which a meeting takes place are proven to make a psychological difference.  Be sure to have the talk in a comfortable place such as a favorite room or restaurant.  By all means, do not sit behind your office desk with your parent on the other side or stand while your parent is sitting.  Such stances are intimidating for the person opposite your authoritative positioning.

4.Ask questions.  When you ask your parent what he or she thinks or what he or she would like to happen, it gives them the sense that they count and that you care.

5.Family values and legacy.  The older generation is usually quite concerned about family values and the legacy they will leave behind.  Point out to your parent what a vital role estate planning will play in carrying out both of these factors.

6.Stress the importance.  It is helpful for you to make sure your parent knows the importance of having a plan for his or her estate and what can happen without one.  It’s wise to tell them about a situation where someone did not have one and the complications that arose.

7.Bring in others.  Make sure you parent does not feel that the estate planning is all about you.  Specifically mention other members of the family, such as additional children or grandchildren, and how completing the task will be helpful to them as well.

8.Responsibility.  Talk to your parent about what a responsible step it is to have such measures in place and how it is also your own responsibility to encourage that an estate plan is intact.

9.Advantages.  Be sure to mention the specific advantages having an estate plan brings along with it like putting into place the best tax strategies.

10.Urgency.  Along with being respectful, empowering and informative, it will be imperative to stress the urgency of the situation so it is not just put on the shelf to talk about at a later date.  When stressing the urgency, give the control back to your parent by asking when he or she would like to meet with an attorney to follow through with the estate planning.  You might even suggest a specific law office where you know the team of estate planning professionals will be non-threatening and sensitive to elder needs such as the Moses Elder Law office.

When it comes to estate planning, although there is no concrete right or wrong way to discuss it, there are certainly things you can do and say without putting the parent on the defensive such as the 10 tips mentioned above.  If you would like assistance with estate planning in New York or another location, please call the Moses Elder law office or simply fill out a contact form and a helpful team member will get back with you in a timely fashion.