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Top Tips for Discussing Probate with Your Elderly Parents

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Probate discussions are never easy, but it is important that it’s not left until the last minute. Read on for some top tips on approaching probate discussions with your parents…

Few of us want to approach the conversation about probate with elderly parents, for fear of seeming rude, greedy or offending or embarrassing them. However, probate advice suggests that having these discussions early on will save the emotional stress and upset in the future.

Failure to plan ahead can have deep and long-lasting effects. So, read on for ten top tips in approaching the topic of probate with your elderly parents…

Don’t Put It Off

We know how difficult it can be to talk to your parents about their future and discussions around death, and it is therefore easy to delay these discussions. But, with aging comes other problems which may make discussing these things harder. Sometimes it is then too late to get everything in place before they pass away. 

By tackling questions and concerns early, you can be in the best position financially and legally when the time comes. 

Request a Meeting with your Parents

It’s better to start these discussions at a scheduled face-to-face meeting. That way, wires are less likely to be crossed and it will be easier to understand one another’s point of view. Try a soft and engaging approach, such as asking what their wishes are and whether there is anything you can do to support them. 

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Get Probate Advice from a Professional

Probate advice from a professional will help you to understand what you need legally to ensure everything after death is a smooth process.

Put Yourself in their Position

What would be your biggest worries or biggest resistances if you were in your parents’ position? By asking yourselves these questions you can empathise with what your parents are going through and this will help to aid discussions.

Telling your parents about your own plans for Wills and Power of Attorney might also get them thinking about these things for themselves and get the process moving. 

Make a Plan

Once the discussions have started, it is important to make a plan, so the process continues. Open up about any legal and financial issues and putting a plan in place to work towards the best outcome for them. Once discussions have started, this doesn’t need to be a rushed process, so you can give your parents the time they need to make arrangements and decisions.

Focus on What your Parents Want

Ensure that throughout the whole process you are keeping the focus on what your parents’ wishes are and make it clear that these conversations are to benefit them. 

Communicate Carefully

The key to these types of discussions is to communicate carefully and validate your parents’ opinions and values. As mentioned above, you need to wholly focus on what your parents’ wishes are and how they are feeling. For you, the outcome of these discussions should be to understand what they want, so know what to expect when they pass, rather than arguing about their wishes.

To do this, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Firstly, you should affirm their values and needs by listening and repeating. Then, you should validate what you have been told by expressing why it makes sense from your perspective, and lastly you should empathise with the speaker’s emotional state. This will help to create a safe and respectful space. Try to stay supportive throughout the process.

Reiterate the Pros and Cons of Actions

During conversations it is important to draw attention to the pros and cons of them taking action. For example, if they have not yet made a Will, help them to understand that if they pass away now, their estate will be dealt with according to the rules of intestacy. 

Include the Immediate Family

If you have siblings or step siblings, they should also be included in these conversations with your parents. This means all decisions will be made fairly and democratically and will keep everyone in the loop. This will also reduce the risks of conflict arising after your parents are no longer around.

Identify Other Key Information

Whilst you are having these conversations with your parents, it would be a good idea to discuss some other important factors. You should identify the key people in the process, including:

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Financial planner and/or accountant
  • Insurance brokers and insurance policies
  • Close friends they want around
  • Power of Attorney
  • Executor/s of the estate

It would also be good to ask their end of life wishes. We know this is another difficult topic of conversation to have, but it is important to understand their wishes before the time comes. 

Ready to Discuss Probate with Your Elderly Parents?

Hopefully this article has given you some steps to follow so you can broach the subject of probate with your parents. This is never going to be an easy conversation, but it is important to get these discussions started sooner rather than later. 

Have you had a successful discussion about probate with your elderly parents? Let us know in the comments below. 

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on the law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

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