People tend to view estate planning as being a morbid topic or subject to avoid because of superstition, which is perhaps why many have not yet started the conversation. Statistics indicate that just 18% of Americans aged 55 years or older have created a will, advance directives, and powers of attorney, putting them at a distinct disadvantage in multiple ways. Dying without a will means state laws on intestacy will be making decisions on what happens with your final affairs. If you suffer from incapacity during your lifetime, your loved ones must go through a drawn-out, expensive court process to get permission to address your health care and financial needs.
Despite knowing the disadvantages of having no estate plan, it is the morbid nature of the topic that deters many from starting the conversation. The discussion can be a more productive one when you have guidance from an estate planning attorney, but some tips may help you open the lines of communication.
Set the Right Tone: Though the discussion does deserve some advance planning, you do not need to create a special event around it. Consider starting up the conversation while participating in an activity you enjoy, such as during a walk, over a cup of coffee, or at lunch.
Do Some Storytelling: Kick off your talk by relating a news item, account from a friend, or other story that makes a memorable impact. In your narrative, point out how a person’s death created nightmares for estate administration because there was no will. Describe how someone you know was forced to spend time and money in court to get permission to be the guardian for an incapacitated individual.
Consider Estate Planning a Team Effort: When you are bringing up estate planning with your partner, make it clear that you want to approach the process with a united front. Clarify through your language that you seek input, participation, and questions. Estate planning is collaborative between couples, so embracing a team effort is critical.
Keep Loved Ones in the Loop: Opening an estate planning conversation with your adult children is wise for transparency purposes, but it is also important when you are:
● Naming one of them as executor or successor in your will;
● Appointing someone as an agent in an advance directive; and,
● Giving a person authority to act under a power of attorney.
Make Your Intentions Known: If you want to approach the topic of estate planning with parents, put them at ease by not focusing on inheritance. Instead, stress the disadvantages of intestate estate administration and going through guardianship proceedings for an incapacitated adult. One idea is to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney as a gift.
An Experience Estate Planning Lawyer Will Guide You Through the Process
For additional tips on striking up the conversation about estate planning with loved ones, please contact Francois Williams Legal. Our team can also assist by advising you on the relevant concepts, explaining options, and drafting essential documents to achieve your estate planning objectives.