As individuals age, they often experience a sense of loss of control. After all, a person may require assistance performing everyday tasks. He or she may also need ongoing medical care. Having a comprehensive estate plan is a good way to retain some power.
Even though many aging Americans recognize the need for estate planning, about 50% of those over the age of 55 have not written a will. If your aging mother or father falls into that category, you may want to discuss beginning the planning process. Still, for a variety of reasons, talking to an elderly relative about estate planning can be difficult. Here are some tips:
If your aging parent is in good health, you are fortunate. That is, trying to address important topics with an ailing individual presents additional challenges. Therefore, start the planning discussion as early as possible. Remember, it may take a significant amount of time to understand and document your relative’s wishes.
Your mother or father may feel uncomfortable talking about end-of-life and other estate planning matters. Accordingly, you should think of the process as a fluid and ongoing one. Put simply, you may need to have several discussions with your parent to be certain that you are protecting his or her wishes.
Estate planning can be a complicated process. As such, you should not feel that you have to go it alone. Instead, seek help from a professional who understands wills, trusts, advance directives, taxes and other complex matters. If you are having trouble focusing the discussion, working with a facilitator may also be a good idea.
Even though discussing estate planning with an elderly relative can be difficult for everyone involved, the benefits of drafting a comprehensive estate plan are considerable. Fortunately, with a bit of care and some empathy, you can likely help your mother or father through the process.