“Mom, Dad… It’s Time for an Estate Plan”

So many clients come into our office, finish signing their estate plan, start to lean back with a sigh of relief only to sit straight up again and say “My parents really need to do this! I wish they would listen to me and come in to see you.” How can adult children persuade stubborn parents of the necessity of an estate plan?

First you need to determine if your parents actually need to be persuaded, or if they’re merely slow to follow through. Offer to bring them with you to your next appointment (if you and your attorney don’t mind), or offer to make an appointment for them with their own attorney. Some parents in very open families even like to have adult children with them at planning meetings

There are times, however, when actual persuasion is required. You may be a grown adult with responsibilities, a successful job, and family of your own, but to your parents you will always be their little girl or boy. This doesn’t mean that your parents don’t value your suggestion, but it may mean they don’t see any urgency to taking action. In these situations what your parents may need to light a fire under them is a professional outside opinion. Suggest that your parents go see their financial specialist, even offer to set up the appointment for them. Much as parents love their children, the opinions of professionals sometimes carry more weight than that of their offspring.

There are the rare occasions, however, when parents absolutely will not be persuaded. Perhaps they don’t trust attorneys, or are adamant that probate is good enough for them, or perhaps (for their own reasons) they want to maintain privacy or even secrecy. In these situations the best course of action may be to let it go. Your parents may have a change of heart when they see how happy you are with your estate plan, they may not.

If this last is the situation you find yourself in, your best course of action may be to ask your attorney what you can do to best protect yourself from the fallout of a lengthy probate process when your parents pass away.