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Minimize the fear factor in raising estate planning with parents

Here’s a dichotomy concerning estate planning.

On the one hand, “Discussing an estate plan is something that too many families put off until it is too late.” That point comes courtesy of our estate administration team at Robertson, Oswalt & Associates. It derives from the inside perspective our attorneys collectively command from years of experience diligently promoting the interests of estate planners across Arkansas.

On the other hand, most families who embrace a timely estate planning conversation stress that “the discussion went smoother than anticipated.” That is an observation delivered by writer and senior care adviser Jody Gastfriend from her professional vantage point.

What prompts the disconnect? Why are so many families averse to an estate planning communique, but satisfied when they finally take the plunge on candidly talking about important matters with loved ones, especially elderly parents?

For many pleasantly surprised families, the key ingredient that promotes a positive outcome concerning the “talk” with parents resides in the approach and at-the-table tenor. Gastfriend underscores in a recent article she penned for Forbes that adult kids who start asking quick questions about inheritances are almost certainly going about things the wrong way. Moms and dad can feel pressured, even threatened, when talk turns that way.

Here’s a better tack: Respectfully inquire about parents’ personal hopes and desires concerning the future and any planning measures they might be thinking about. What is it they seek? A gentle nudge that solicits them to open up can thaw a room quickly and pave the path for what is eventually an open-ended and comprehensive estate planning conversation.

One financial professional who works with older clients stresses, for example, that, “Discussing potential long-term care needs and health care costs can open the dialogue.” Many other topics might serve similarly well.

Proven attorneys can assist in the process, knowing well that there are typically many entry points that can promote candor and a tailored strategy truly advancing important estate planning goals.

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