They say there are two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. Ironically enough, death and money are two of the most taboo topics in many cultures. This may be why some people are reluctant to ask their ageing parents about their will and estate plans.
Maybe you’re worried you’ll seem greedy or nosy, or perhaps you simply don’t want to think about your parents passing.
But as uncomfortable as it might be, it’s an important conversation to have to ensure their final wishes are respected – and no one is left confused and scrambling when the time comes.
We hope these tips help make it a little easier to talk to your parents about their will.
Find an appropriate time
Give some thought to when and where you’d like to broach this sensitive subject. For example, somewhere private and relaxed could be appropriate. Your parents might feel most comfortable in their own home.
Try to ease into the topic by sharing an anecdote about someone you know, or your own experiences with estate planning. If you don’t like the idea of springing it on them, you might prefer to give them some notice by scheduling a meeting to discuss the topic together.
Don’t wait until there’s a crisis
Don’t save the conversation for when someone experiences a sudden health scare or seems to be in their final years. It can be delicate enough without adding urgency to the mix.
Plan ahead and have the discussion with plenty of time for both you and your parents to prepare. Raise the topic while your parents are healthy and of sound mind to ensure you’re on the same page, and to provide them with peace of mind that their wishes are known.
Don’t lecture them
The last thing you want is for your parents to feel like they’re being interrogated or spoken down to.
Let them lead the conversation, listen without judgement, and focus on their wants and concerns. Get an idea of what they’ve done and what still needs taking care of, and offer to help if needed.
Don’t make it all about money
This conversation shouldn’t be focused solely on finances and assets. Make it clear you’re not interested in dollar amounts – you simply care about their wishes and want an idea of how they’ve planned for after they’ve passed.
Some important things to cover might include:
- Where they keep important documents
- Who they’ve named executor of their will
- Who they’ve named power of attorney
- Their preferences for potential long-term care
- Their wishes for their funeral.
Seek legal help
While you can write a will yourself, it’s recommended that you consult a lawyer to ensure your will conforms to legal requirements. It’s the best way to guarantee your parents don’t miss anything and their final wishes will be respected.
RAQ offers support to older people in Queensland to plan for the future and make important decisions. Learn about our range of free services aimed at providing education, advice, and referrals here.