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How to encourage parents’ candor on estate planning details

“Opening the doors of communication.”

We used those words and imagery in a recent blog post at the Bay Area Law Offices of Connie Yi. We stressed in our April 2 entry that a candid and timely two-way exchange is vital between adult children and their parents when it comes to the key details of mom’s and dad’s estate plan.

That’s obvious, right? If a loving son or daughter wants to help and is unable to do so owing to a lack of even the most elemental planning-linked information, the carefully crafted strategies of a tailored plan can go for naught. “Being in the dark,” we noted in last week’s post, “promotes no one’s interests.”

It is often the case that adult children don’t simply want to know what’s going on in their parents’ minds regarding important future matters. Rather, they need to know. Legions of parents appoint their children as estate executors and give them power to step in and act concerning health care and financial matters if/when the need to do so arises.

Obviously, a “you’re going to die, so I need to know” opening in a planning conversation is not the way to go for an adult child seeking to communicate with parents.

Candidly, though, there are a number of ice-breaking intros that can be quite naturally employed during “the talk.” Many approaches can be used that encourage rather than dampen parental input concerning key matters like document location, health care preferences, power of attorney relevant to financial matters and so forth.

It is not uncommon for adult children to squirm a bit when thinking about how to talk with parents concerning estate planning and the future. An experienced and empathetic estate administration attorney can be an ideal sounding board for discussing communication strategies that facilitate candor and promote family empowerment for all concerned parties.

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