How can you bring up estate planning with your parents?

Your parents have not done any estate planning, and you're worried that it is soon going to become a problem. You want to talk to them about end-of-life medical care, passing on family assets and heirlooms, moving into a nursing home and much more.

However, you know that they do not want to talk about it. Bringing it up feels awkward and strained. They do not like being reminded that they're moving closer to the ends of their own lives.

At the same time, you do not want to come across as selfish. Will mentioning estate planning make it sound like you're eager for your parents to pass away so that you can get their wealth? Even if that is not your intent, you worry about sounding like it is.

So, how do you bring it up? While it is true that every family situation is unique, a few key tips include:

1. Start with one-on-one conversations. You do not want your parents to feel like this is some sort of an intervention. Try to keep it simple and bring it up as casually as you can. You may want to simply ask one of your parents if they have done their estate planning yet. Even if you already know the answer, this makes you sound more passive and genuinely interested.

2. Look for relevant examples. For instance, maybe your parents had a friend who passed away without an estate plan. Did that cause problems for the family? You can simply mention how hard that must have been for them and how you'd like to avoid it. This opens the door to the estate planning conversation a bit more naturally.

3. Keep everyone in the loop. It is important for all family members to be on the same page. Even if you start the one-on-one conversations, keep your siblings informed. Moving forward, suggest having a family meeting so that you can all talk it out. This can help to eliminate estate disputes because you all work together and everyone knows where they stand.

4. Do not chase specific items. Maybe your parents have some artwork that you always dreamed of getting for your own home, for instance. Don't aggressively ask for it at the beginning, or it looks like you just care about the assets, not your parents. Instead, once the conversation has started, mention that you would like that item if no one else had their eyes on it. This passive approach keeps from straining tensions between you and your parents or your siblings.

This is a delicate topic. As you work to get the conversation going, make sure you and your parents know about the legal options you have.

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