How to Talk to Your Family About Estate Planning

Discussing finances, estate planning, and end-of-life decisions is not an easy discussion to have with loved ones, but it is an important one.  Often many problems in probating an estate or caring for an elderly parent or grandparent can be avoided by simply making sure that necessary conversations occur before it is too late. What should a family discuss?  Here are some ways to get the conversation started:

  • What do you envision for your life as you get older?  How do you hope to live?
  • What are your goals for your “Golden Years”?
  • What are your biggest worries?  What stresses you out the most about your heath?  Your finances?  Your care?
  • Where do you want to live as you grow older?  Do you want to stay at home as long as possible?  Would you be willing to move to be closer to family?
  • What do you want for your children?  For your grandchildren?  What type of legacy do you want to leave?
  • Do you want to provide a financial safety net for your children and their families?
  • Is it important to you that your children/grandchildren live near you?  Do you want to provide help to encourage this?

Once the dialog has begun it is important for children and grandchildren to know what planning has already been done.  This will help them prepare to address the needs of their parents and grandparents as health declines.  It is also important for parents and grandparents to understand the capabilities of their children and grandchildren.  Will they be able to move to be closer to their aging family members?  Will work and family responsibilities allow them to provide the care the aging family member needs?  Can they afford to provide or facilitate the care the aging family member needs?  By having these conversations early and continuing to discuss each family member’s concerns and desires as living situations change, the family will be best able to provide the type of care that aging family member wants and needs.