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Do you understand your parents' estate plans?

As your parents age, you may become more aware of the fact that they will not live forever. Though coming to terms with a loved one's mortality can prove emotionally difficult and jarring, you may have to confront these feelings in order to understand your parents' end-of-life wishes.

Do you know if your parents have an estate plan? Do you know the details of those plans? If you answered no to either of these questions, then the time may have come to discuss estate planning with your loved ones.

Why discuss plans?

If your parents have created an estate plan or separate estate plans, they have already taken steps in the right direction. However, if you have no idea what those plans indicate, you and other surviving family members could find yourselves caught off guard in the event of one or both of your parents' deaths. By having an open conversation about their wishes, the likelihood for conflict may decrease, and you may have a better chance of ensuring that their wishes get carried out correctly.

If your parents have no plans, you may want to use the conversation to encourage them to create an estate plan. You could offer details of your own plan and indicate why you chose to create one and the benefits planning offers. You should express any concerns you have regarding their potential need for care or financial help.

By gaining a better understanding of your parents' desires and expressing your hopes and concerns, the opportunity to better detail estate plans may arise. If your parents created only a will, the discussion may allow them to realize that appointing power of attorney agents may also prove beneficial. The conversation may also help you and other siblings or family better understand why your parents have made or will make certain choices regarding their estate.

How to start the discussion

Because asking parents how they want their affairs handled after death may seem blunt and uncomfortable, many individuals may want to put off such a conversation. However, you could utilize certain tactics in hopes of making the discussion more acceptable for everyone involved:

  • Make sure all necessary parties are present.
  • Plan ahead to ensure that the topic does not catch anyone off guard.
  • Present your concerns in a clear, sincere and concise manner.
  • Disclose and focus on the benefits of estate planning rather than on the aspect of death.

You may also wish to present the idea of potentially utilizing a South Dakota estate planning attorney. Such professionals could help interested parties better understand what documents suit their specific needs and how their plans could affect their surviving loved ones.

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