Estate Planning Conversation Starters

Now, more than 70% of Americans don’t have an estate plan in place. Several aspects of the planning process can really seem overwhelming, which is one of the reasons why people procrastinate. They put it off and put it off and then it’s too late to get anything done.

When it comes to helping your parents put together an estate plan, it can really seem like a huge task because there’s going to be a lot of documents that you have to gather. You’re going to need to pay the estate planning attorney. Probably the most important thing, you’re going to have to contemplate your own death and they’re going to have to contemplate theirs.

There’s some obstacles that adult children run into when this issue comes up. The main obstacle is “How do you start a conversation about this?”

Somebody asked me this question a few months ago. And so today, I’m going to share with you some of the things that I told them.

Conversation starter #1 – find an example of a family where one of the parents either died or became incapacitated and they had absolutely no planning in place.

You can talk about how expensive the probate process was or how difficult it was for the kids to make any decisions and to get anything done. You can talk about how that cause a great deal of strife within the family, how all sibling rivalries were brought out, how people just started fighting about anything and everything.

Another thing you can do is find some examples online in real life where people have had estate planning catastrophes, so to speak, where things just really didn’t go well and they didn’t go well because they failed to plan.

You can look on CNN, Forbes Magazine, their electronic version they have, a section dedicated to estate planning. You can look there for stories to possibly use with your parents in talking about this topic.

Stories are really good because they’re based on something real. It’s not some hypothetical situation that I have come up with or somebody else has come up with. It’s something that has happened to someone and people relate much better to that.

Conversation starter #2 – let your parents know that if they want to say in what happens to their estate and their stuff at the time of their death, then they have to line things up now while they still can. They need to work with an estate planning attorney to do that.

Many times, just recognizing or pointing out to them that the government will be stepping in to plan things for them if they failed to do so themselves, can be enough of a motivator just for them into getting some planning done.

Most older people don’t like the government intervening in their personal affairs. Telling them that if they failed to plan, then the state of Texas has a plan for them and that some faces bureaucrat or some judge some place is going to control what’s going to happen to their stuff and how things are going to go at the time of their death.

Again, maybe enough of a motivator to get them to plan or at least thinking about planning.

Conversation starter #3 – start by posing gently some questions to your parents.

Like “Mom or dad, you’ve work hard to create, save and grow your assets. What if you become sick or disabled or just aren’t able to manage your own affairs anymore? Don’t you want to have a plan in place to ensure that you are one taken care of in the way that you want to be taken care of? Don’t you want to make sure that the people that you want to help with that are able to do so?”

Also ask them “Don’t you want your property to be distributed the way that you want it to be distributed? Not the way the State of Texas may think that you would have want it to be distributed and not the way anybody in the family would have thought that you would have want it to be distributed but the way that you want it to be?”

Also you can ask them “Aren’t there certain things that you own that you definitely want specific people to have? Because if you don’t have a plan in place that says who gets those things, that person may not get it.”

Or “Do you have a charity that you would like to leave some money to? Definitely if you don’t name who that charity is, we may never know and we wouldn’t know how much you want them to have.”

Without a plan in place, one that’s in writing and legally valid, none of those things are going to be able to happen. “Don’t you want your wishes to be put into effect at the time of your disability or your death? The only way that you’re going to be able to make sure that that happens is if you have a plan in place.” So that was conversation starter #3.

Moving on to conversation starter #4. Do your own estate planning. And then share what you’ve learned with your parents.

Working with your own estate planning, you are going to have an understanding what the process is like and you are bound to become even more convinced that your parents need to engage in their own planning.

Sometimes, just knowing that they have someone that they trust that they can go to for support that they can talk to this thing, talk to about this is enough to get the ball rolling for them.

Using any of these conversation starters can help increase the chances that your aging parent will start to at least contemplate getting their estate planning in place if not taking that big step in making an appointment with an estate planning attorney to get their affairs in order.

Give them a try the next time you’re ready to bring this topic up with them.

This is Antoinette Bone at The Law Office of Antoinette Bone where we help you plan for and protect your family, your wealth and your legacy.

We hope that you found this video useful and informative. If you like to find out more about estate planning topics, you can visit my website at If you’re ready to come on in, you can give us a call at 817-462-5454.

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