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How to Talk to Parents about Estate Planning

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July 11, 2023 •  Emily Hicks Law, PLLC
With nearly 90% of caregivers providing care to a family member, it's important to make time to check in with both aging family members, as well as those performing caregiving duties.
According to research conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, there are currently over 50 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. This number has seen a significant increase of nearly 25% since 2015. The burden of caregiving falls heavily on baby boomers and women, who are responsible for providing care to their aging family members. With the rise in life expectancy and the aging of the baby boomer generation, the demand for caregiving will only continue to rise.
In a recent article by Forbes titled "Holiday Season Tips For Caregivers," it is highlighted that as the number of seniors in America continues to grow, we are on the brink of witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in history. It is estimated that over the next 25 years, 45 million Americans will transfer approximately $68 trillion.
As a result, it has become more crucial than ever to engage in estate planning conversations.
Discussing topics related to money and mortality can be challenging and emotionally charged. Here are some tips on how to approach this sensitive subject with your family and loved ones:
1. Schedule a dedicated time: Recognize that this is an overwhelming topic, but it should not be ignored. Set aside specific time to initiate the conversation and establish a timeline for completing the necessary estate planning documents. This approach will make the process more manageable and hold everyone involved accountable.
2. Share your knowledge: Educate your family and loved ones about the significance of these documents, their implications, and when they come into play. Emphasize the importance of having an estate plan in place to ensure that their wishes are carried out.
3. Ask open-ended questions: If the person is of sound mind, involve them in the decision-making process. Ask open-ended questions to gather information about any steps that have already been taken and document everything without judgment.
4. Share your own plan: By sharing your own ideas and discussing your own plans, you can alleviate tension and alleviate fears. This approach demonstrates that others are not alone in the planning process.
5. Keep the conversation open-ended: Empathy is key during these planning conversations, as many seniors experience a range of emotions. Reassure them that you are available for future discussions and commit to checking in at the designated times outlined in the timeline you created together.
It is also advisable to seek assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney.
Reference: Forbes (Nov. 29, 2022) "Holiday Season Tips For Caregivers".
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