7 Tips to Talk to Your Parents About their Estate Plans

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks, ultrarunner, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife and mom, is the founder of My Pink Lawyer®. She has been helping Florida women and families protect their assets from unnecessary government interference, exorbitant legal fees, lengthy time delays, and family fights for over twenty years.

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Talking with your parents about estate planning isn’t easy. Older adults don’t want to think about death while adult children don’t want their parents to think they only care about the money.

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Here are some quick pointers on how to talk to your parents about the topic:

  • Don’t be scared to talk about it. Older adults are increasingly asking children for help managing their finances. Be honest and tell your parents that you don’t want their money unnecessarily going toward taxes and expensive administration fees.

  • Don’t hesitate to broach the topic yourself. Think like a public relations executive. You can put a positive spin on any conversation and speak candidly without hesitation. I discuss post-death matters everyday with my clients and it’s really not a big deal (the discussion, not the death itself of course) unless you treat it like one.

  • Getting your own Family Succession Plan in place is the perfect segueway into discussing the matter with your parents. “Hey, mom and dad. We just completed our Family Succession Planning with our lawyer. We really liked her and think you would too. Are you already working with someone else?”

  • Talk about a celebrity’s recent death as an icebreaker. It always surprises me that celebrities with presumable oodles of money make the same planning mistakes that us average folk do. Let’s learn from their mistakes. You can check out some recent famous deaths here.

  • Give your parents a copy of my book which covers some of the common pitfalls associated with one's planning (or lack thereof). Most parents cringe at the thought of leaving a mess behind for their families. My book covers practical ways to avoid the most common problems I see after the death of a loved in a light, easy to read manner. You can order a copy of my book at the link below.

  • Talk about how uncertain the estate tax situation is this year with the new administration. Of course the talk is to do away with estate taxes altogether (yay!) but the topic is a great way to broach the subject of planning with your parents.

  • Mention that you’d like to make sure your parents won’t outlive their money. That approach puts the focus back on your parents and away from you. We learned some practical ways to not outlive your money at our recent Women Empowered workshop that I co-hosted with Annalee Leonard of Mainstay Financial Group.

At the end of the day, remember that it’s not your money and barring certain guaranteed spousal inheritance rights, your parents can leave their assets to whomever they want to. 

I’ve found that emphasizing the additional expense, aggravation, potential conflict among surviving family members and unnecessary time delays in not planning is a great entry point to what many see as a difficult conversation.

Want to learn more? Click the link below to download a free copy of my book, Wise Women Protect their Assets.

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What has been YOUR experience talking to your parents about their estate plan? Leave me a comment below.

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