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Advice on having a family talk re estate planning: don't dally

"We need to talk."

That succinct and quickly conveyed prompt -- from either adult children to parents or from the latter to their kids -- might essentially be all that's needed to shake off inertia and family reticence regarding a centrally important matter.

And that is this: understanding what aging parents need, expect and require -- if anything -- from their adult kids as they progressively age in life.

High numbers of families in California and across the country will openly concede that they just can't get off the starting line to commence "the talk" that can be urgently necessary regarding estate planning matters. That candid discussion often centers on things like care provision in old age, help/intervention with parents' financial affairs, a clear understanding of what mom and dad expect from sons and daughters and, in turn, want to do for them, and so forth.

Do yourself a favor, advises investment management company Fidelity. If you're a child and feel that the family needs to talk, just broach the subject. Likewise, do the same if you're a parent.

The alternative -- doing nothing -- can be damaging, indeed. As Fidelity notes, waiting until one or both parents becomes mentally and/or physically incapacitated or suddenly and unexpectedly passes away can throw a real wrench of confusion and uncertainty into the process.

"You need to know the game plan and everyone's role ahead of time," says one Fidelity commentator on estate planning.

An annual report from Fidelity on family expectations regarding estate administration indicates that there is much to be gained for most families in simply getting on with the discussion. Fidelity's data indicate that most children want to help aging parents.

And that many of them don't know how to exactly do that is a problem that can be acknowledged and addressed through a candid and timely family conversation.

A proven estate planning attorney can provide further information.

 

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