As parents get older, their needs and wishes can change. They may no longer be as independent as they once were, and they could be thinking about the legacy they hope to leave behind.

With these changes in mind, it can be critical for adult children to talk to their parents about their estate plan. Doing so sooner, rather than later, can be important for several reasons.

    1. Talking about an estate plan can help them see the importance of having a plan in the first place. If your parent does not have a will or other planning documents in place, it could be too late to do anything if you do not address it when they are mentally fit and healthy. If you learn that they do not have a plan in place, you can encourage them to complete one for their sake and the sake of their loved ones. These five items are a good place to start.
    2. It can give you a chance to ask questions. People create plans that reflect their wants and needs. However, these do not always align with what others expect, and sometimes, the decisions may not make sense to others. You can better understand their wishes when you talk to your parents while they can still provide answers and insight.
    3. It can help you make your own plans. Your parents’ plans can influence yours. For instance, if they appoint you as a guardian or substitute decision-maker, you may choose to stay close rather than move away. If you learn that they will leave you a generous gift, you might think about things like financial planning or creating your own estate plan to protect that gift and pass it down to your children.
    4. The conversation can prevent conflict. Talking to your parents before they get sick or pass away can allow you to understand what they do and do not want, preventing disputes and arguments in the future. In many cases, people might contest a will or challenge appointments because they disagree with them. However, if you can explain that you discussed these decisions with your parent, you can eliminate the doubt or disbelief others might have.

Talking to your parents about estate planning matters may be uncomfortable. However, for the reasons stated above, doing so today can be crucial.