Death and money are among the two most difficult subjects to talk about. So it is no surprise that combining them both into a discussion with loved ones about estate planning can be incredibly uncomfortable.
With that in mind, we at PJI Law recommend that families have an open dialogue among themselves about estate planning. Estate planning is not only for the elderly or the wealthy. Parents with young children need estate plans to ensure their children are provided for physically and financially. Children over the age of 18 need estate planning documents so that their family can help them manage their finances or make medical decisions in case of an injury or sudden disability. Older adults need them so that their loved ones have peace of mind and are not left guessing about last wishes, or even worse, litigating them. These discussions don’t have to be negative, since they stem from loving, caring for, and planning for our families. In fact, creating an estate plan is a very empowering experience for many people.
When looking to approach family members about estate plans, particularly if you have found it difficult to do so thus far, we recommend the following tips:
- Talk about your own estate plan and goals. If your loved ones know you have taken these steps for yourself, they may be more receptive to the suggestion that they do the same.
- Keep a tone of respect. The person you are talking to is an adult (whether it is someone younger or older than you). People are more engaged when they feel that they are an integral part of the discussion.
- Be direct and communicate your position.
- Make sure you focus on the positive aspect of being in the driver’s seat and making the decisions for yourself while you can.
- Don’t nag. Simply plant the seed and water it from time to time.
- Voice your opinions and concerns using “I” statements.
- Don’t blame or use “You” statements.
- Be mindful that it may take some time and many conversations for there to be progress.
At PJI Law, it is our goal to give our clients the education and tools they need to take control of their futures and to plan for their loved ones. If you are one of the many Virginians without estate planning documents (including a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will, a Financial Power of Attorney, and any necessary trusts), we are ready to help you take the first step in ensuring your loved ones are cared for. Please call us to schedule a time to meet with one of our attorneys to discuss the next steps.