Most people have not done their estate planning

Do you feel concerned that your parents or perhaps even your grandparents have not done their estate planning? You don’t know if you should bring it up; it’s something of an awkward conversation since you don’t want it to sound like you’re just trying to find out “what you’ll get” or that you think they could pass away soon. But you also do not think they have a plan in place, and that worries you.

Most people do not

Your concern, at least, is well-founded. As it turns out, most people do not have things like:

  • A health care proxy
  • A living will
  • A power of attorney
  • A last will and testament
  • A trust

These are all critical pieces of an estate plan. The will may start the process, but people really need more complex plans that give them more options and more protections. Unfortunately, most people have not even written a will, much less decided to use these other documents as well.

Why not?

The reasons that people do not have their estate planning done tend to differ from one person to the next. Some people feel uncomfortable when they think about the end and they just do not want to do so. Others do not know where to start. Some do not know that they need a plan, or they mistakenly think they don’t. Still others know they need it but think they can just do it later. They may be able to, but there’s no way to know for sure.

Should you talk to them?

If your parents or grandparents have put off their planning or neglected to do it, you may want to talk to them. Things can get much more complicated for you and the other heirs if they pass away with nothing in place. On top of that, an estate plan often provides different ways to protect assets from taxes and other losses. Doing the planning could literally keep them from losing a lot of their money before it even gets to you.

If starting the conversation feels difficult, just honestly explain your concerns. Tell them that you love them and you’re looking out for them and the rest of the family. Point out that you are not trying to pressure them; they can put anything in the estate plan that they want. You just need to know that they did something, that they have some sort of plan filed away for when it’s needed most.

Getting started

Estate planning can get complex. It’s important to know how to get started and to understand all of the various tools and legal options that exist.