If you are unsure whether your parents have done their estate planning, there is no harm in asking them. Two-thirds of adult Americans have not made an estate plan, and dying without one is not helpful for anyone.
If your parents are reluctant to talk about planning, gently remind them of some of the advantages of engaging in this process.
An estate plan can serve their medical interests
Let’s say your mother is deeply religious and has particular beliefs about things like blood transfusion or organ donation. Without an estate plan where she notes her preferences, she could find them ignored if doctors have to make a quick decision. As well as writing down her wishes in an advanced health care directive she can give someone who understands her wishes a health care power of attorney to speak to doctors on her behalf if she ever becomes unable to do this herself.
It can keep money out of the coffers of the IRS
Perhaps your dad loves the IRS and would happily see as much as possible of his estate go into its coffers when he dies. Probably not, though. By talking about estate planning now, you can help him find ways, such as the annual gift allowance, to reduce the amount the IRS gets and increase what the family or a charity of choice receives.
A plan can potentially allow you – and other loved ones – plan for the future
Maybe you want to put money away in an irrevocable trust where you will not be able to touch it. Yet, if your parents do not have a plan to pay for any health care or assistance they may need in later life, you may need to use some of your money to give them a hand. So, you need to know whether they are sorted before you can put your money out of reach.
Once you have engaged your parent’s interest, you can help them find legal help to create their plan.