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For many people, the idea of planning what to do with their estate can seem like an overwhelming amount of work. They may also be worried about the expense involved. Furthermore, nobody enjoys thinking about their own death or about how their loved ones will go on after the fact. However, it is an eventuality that will come to us all. The better prepared a person’s affairs are in advance of their demise, the less likely it will be that the people they care about will end up in a state of confusion or conflict as a result of their passing.
If you have a loved one who has been procrastinating or outright refusing to create an estate plan, here are a few steps you can take.
Speak with Professionals They Already Trust
If your loved one works with a financial professional that they already trust, such as a CPA or a financial advisor, this person would be an excellent place to start. Ask them if they know of any estate planning attorneys that they think might work well with your loved one and get them to make the recommendation on your behalf. After all, it might be easier to take advice from their financial professional than from their own child or grandchild.
Your loved one may feel nervous about meeting with a new lawyer. You can offer to attend the meeting with them, which can allay any fears they might have. Moreover, good estate planning attorneys are adept at putting people at ease and explaining the process of what they do in a way that comes across as manageable. Once they realize that the lawyer will be the one doing the majority of the work, your loved one may feel less overwhelmed.
Explain What Will Happen if They Don’t Have a Plan in Place
Sometimes the reason people fail to put an estate plan in place is that they have not fully thought through the consequences of what might happen without one. Explain to your loved one that if they do not make their wishes clear in advance, the probate courts will have to decide what goes to whom. The process will probably take a long time and may create a lot of ill will among family members.
It may also be helpful to put things in more positive terms. Let them know that by creating a plan, they can make it a lot more likely that their assets can help a child buy a home or that their grandchild goes to college without taking on debt.
Approach the Conversation with Compassion
Any conversation you have with your loved one about the need to make a plan should come from a place of compassion as well as firmness. Even if you are coming from a good place, being forceful will make it more likely that the person will refuse.
Make sure that they understand that you have their best interests at heart. For example, explain that estate planning is not all about how their assets should be distributed but also about planning for medical decisions while the person is still alive.
These conversations can be overwhelming at any age. Working from a place of understanding and gentleness can help you bring your loved one around to doing what needs to be done to protect their family’s interests as well as their own.
When you need help with an estate plan or talking to a family member about why they need an estate plan, contact our experienced Woodbridge estate planning attorney. We can meet with your family and help you develop a plan to talk to your reluctant relative about the benefits of solid planning. Simply call our office at 703-492-9955 to schedule an initial meeting.