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It's time to have the estate planning talk with your parents

You're in your 40s, have happy and growing kids, some money in the bank and you've finally crossed off the one thing that's been on your to-do list forever: make an estate plan.

It was tough on a lot of fronts - finding the time to organize both your paperwork and your thoughts, as well as coming to terms with the fact that one day, this plan will spring into action.

Your parents never told you when they did their estate plan, or the details of where their will is, the name of the executor and such. You'll tell your kids so they'll be prepared.

Wait a minute, you think. Your parents never told you this stuff. Is their estate plan done?

It's time to have the talk with them, too.

Approximately 33 percent of parents over age 60 report they've never talked to their family members about things such as inheritances, beneficiaries and such, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Wells Fargo. At the same time, adult children said they hesitate to bring up the topic because they don't want their parents to think their money is all they want.

Here are four ways to address the topic:

  1. When you feel the time is right, start by telling your parents you want to make sure their legal documents, such as health care directives and a will, are in place. Remind them that emergencies strike people of any age. Ask your siblings to join in the conversation so you are all on the same page.
  2. Talk about the estate plan you have created and the decisions you have made for your future. Ask your parents to share their plans. That will get them to open up about whether they've completed their estate plans.
  3. While it's nice to ease into the topic, get to the tough conversation sooner rather than later. Funeral plans and important financial decisions must be discussed.
  4. Because research has shown that about 20 percent of the elderly are victims are financial scams, it is wise to tell your parents you'd like to help them flag possible scammers who might have approached them, as well offer tools to prevent being swindled.

It might be beneficial to bring in a professional, such as an experienced California attorney, to help you explain to parents just how important these final plans are. Then you all can rest easy.

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