How to Suggest Estate Planning to a Relative

How to Suggest Estate Planning to a Relative

As our relatives get older, it’s important that we help care for them and make sure that they are ready for the changes that life brings. If you have an older relative that hasn’t started planning their estate yet, this can be very concerning. There are many reasons why they may not have put together a will or trust yet – they may be intimidated by the process, or they may just not have had the time to think about it yet. Although it can be a difficult conversation to have, you should suggest to your relative that they start thinking about planning their estate to avoid problems further on down the line. Here are some tactful tips for bringing it up.

Remind them how much you care about them.
The most challenging part of this conversation is getting it started, so open by telling your relative that you really care about them and wouldn’t want their assets getting into the wrong hands if something were to happen. Tell them that you want to take action now so that the family doesn’t have to worry about it later on as they age. If your relative plans their estate earlier on in life, then they can relax and spend time with their loved ones as they get older, which is a benefit for everyone.

Use strength in numbers.
If you don’t feel comfortable having this conversation on your own, ask another family member (or two or three) to talk to your older relative with you. If you all show concern and make your case together, your relative will be more likely to take it seriously. Just be sure not to gang up on them and to really listen to their concerns so they feel heard and validated.

Offer to help.
There’s a big chance that your relative hasn’t started planning their estate yet because they aren’t sure how or are scared they might do things incorrectly. Help ease their fears by guiding them through the process, or introducing them to someone who is an expert in these matters. Once your relative feels empowered to take this step, they’ll realize that it isn’t so difficult.

Suggest low-cost options.
Another reason your relative may not have started planning their estate yet is because they don’t want to spend the money to put together a will or trust. A great way to deal with this is to present them with some affordable options that you know are in their budget. You may have a local estate planning lawyer that has very reasonable fees, or you can even use an online estate planning service and then have a professional look it over later to save money. If you can, you may even want to offer to cover the fees to show your relative just how much you care and how important this task is.

Gently let them know what will happen if they don’t plan their estate.
Your relative may not be aware of what happens when you don’t plan your estate, and they may not realize how serious the consequences could be. Look up the laws for estate distribution in your state and inform them of what might happen to their assets if there isn’t a will or trust to specify where they go. For example, hard-earned investments or even a favorite family property may end up going to a former spouse or a family member that won’t manage them properly. You don’t want to stress them out too much, so use a gentle and kind tone while having this conversation. It’s also important to remind them that planning an estate is not horribly difficult with a bit of help, and you can always amend your trust or will later on if the need arises.