While growing up, our parents constantly lectured us about planning for the future and made sure we did everything we could to secure a bright tomorrow. But have you ever thought about talking to your parents about their future? As we grow older, so do people around us, those we love and care for and who are integral parts of our lives. Talking to them about topics such as estate planning, retirement, beneficiary designations, and if they should think about down sizing and living somewhere other than the residence they have resided in for the past 40+ years can be daunting to say the least.
Why is this task so hard to do? Some of you may fear what they will say, what their response will or will not be, or just how awkward it might be for you and your parents to discuss these matters. At the end of the day it is so hard, because we love them and don’t want to imagine a life without them. However, this is also the motivating factor that should drive us to have these important conversations with them, and the fact that you want their estate to be in order without the worry of something going wrong or an aspect being overlooked.
Here are some tips to get the conversation started:
1. When you start this conversation with your parents, make sure you have chosen a good place, time, and setting in which to have a pleasant and thorough conversation with them. Put yourself in their shoes and try to think of an environment in which you would feel comfortable having these discussions with your child, and try to be as accommodating as possible.
2. Make sure your intentions are coming from a place of love, respect, and concern for your parents’ well-being, comfort, and security. Your motivating factors should not come from your own desires to ensure your part of the estate is taken care of, and if your parents sense that you are irritated or frustrated with them or that you are pursuing these conversations for your own gain, it can go south pretty quickly, and they will most likely tune out the remainder of your talk.
3. Emphasize the end result: making sure they are taken care of and that their desires are carried out. Try to focus on the aspect that you desire your parents to be taken care of as their lives progress and that taking steps to ensure their wishes are carried out is key to the peace of mind of all involved.
These conversations are hard and not something we want to talk about, but if we remember the reason we need to have them and the end result of what they could bring, that will hopefully give us the motivation to start these conversations, and eventually come to a point where everyone can work together to achieve a common goal – that of security and peace of mind in knowing your loved ones will be taken care of.