So far in this chapter we assumed you’re formulating your own estate planning. The same principles apply when you assist elderly parents with their estate.
Help your parents to assemble the required documentation well in advance of deteriorating health. Ideally, your family—including the parent leaving the inheritance and siblings sharing in it—are able to discuss this openly. It may be too much to say that you can discuss it comfortably.
Financial considerations often take a distant back seat, as they should, when you’re concerned about the health of your sole surviving parent. Thus, it’s important to take care of these matters proactively. Otherwise, an estate may be left in a state of disrepair. Simple logic suggests that an estate with proper planning will take less money, time, and headaches to transfer to the next generation. To facilitate the conversation, it may be helpful to share this book chapter with your parent(s).
Despite the obvious logic, it can be difficult to initiate this conversation with a parent. We don’t want to come across as being motivated by greed, as in “So, what are you leaving me in your Will?” But the conversation needs to take place. It may be helpful to initiate the talk by saying something like: “It’s going to be very difficult for me to deal with losing you. I don’t want to be faced with estate-related questions at the same time. There are lots of guides on how to plan properly. Let’s sit down this weekend and work through one of them.”
In most cases, I expect your parent will be relieved to hear this. He or she most likely wants to get this done but has found it awkward to begin the conversation.
Everyone benefits from a smooth estate transfer process. Having a plan in place allows you to focus on living life to the fullest with your aging parents and having the time to grieve properly when they’re no longer there.