If you are aware that your parents have not yet made an estate plan, or if they have not shared details with you about their plan, you may be concerned on their behalf.
It is reasonable to have concerns, because planning an estate can put provisions in place regarding health care and their preferences for treatment if they become unable to make their own decisions.
It is important that you raise a conversation with your parents about how they should start planning their estate, or that you raise questions about the details of the plan in a sensitive way. The following are some key tips that can be helpful for those who want to address estate planning topics with their parents.
Focus on the practical and necessary details
It is important that you focus on questions that relate to the well-being of your parents, and that you avoid sensitive topics such as details about inheritance. For example, you might want to ask your parents whether they have an estate plan, and whether they have included a health care directive. You would like to feel relaxed in the knowledge that they have a plan in place in the event of one of them suffering ill health.
If they do not have an extensive plan in place, inform them of the benefits
Your parents may not fully understand the importance of having an estate plan, and they may believe that it is only necessary for distributing assets at the end of their life. If this is the case, you should explain that it can enable them to proactively arrange their future health care preferences, that it can help their loved ones avoid dealing with the stress of the probate process and that there are potential tax benefits in their lifetime.
If your parents feel overwhelmed with the process of estate planning, they should know that there are many services that can help them to get organized. It's also important to recognize that they might need some time to reflect on their wishes before taking action.
If you want to help your parents plan their estate, it is a good idea to conduct research on the different estate planning options in California.