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Adult children may engage parents in early estate planning

In California, estate planning is sufficiently complex to make it wise for adult children to discuss the status of such matters with their parents. The children can add to their peace of mind and to that of their parents by discussing estate planning preferences and goals with them. In some families, this may be difficult to do because the children and their parents are not accustomed to talking about financial matters together.

Even worse, a child's inquiries of his or her parents regarding the status of their estate planning may be received as a self-serving approach by the parents. These are normal issues that some families encounter, but they are easily resolved by a child's sincere concern and commitment to action where appropriate. When approaching one's parents to determine the status and needs of their estate planning, there are some guidelines to follow.

One may typically start by asking the parent or parents for a special meeting. It is best to do this before health problems and crises make it much more difficult to interact and to get things done. One delicate way of presenting the matter is to indicate one's own estate planning efforts and the thought that the parents may need to get the same protections and goals in place. Their reaction will likely be positive and even enthusiastic.

The actual decisions and document preparation will be best achieved in consultation with an attorney experienced in estate planning under California law and procedure. A joint consultation between the parents, the children and an estate planning attorney is an excellent way to begin the process. If one's parents are typically independent, simply steering them to making and keeping the appointment may be all that is needed. As a final gesture, it may be a fitting next step to finish or update one's own estate plan and then tell the parents about that achievement.

Source:, "Women on Money and Mindset: Talking estate planning with your parents", Patti Cotton, Aug. 23, 2017

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