Passing on without leaving a clear, legally valid will can put family members through a long and complex probate process. Probate can be a very tense and stressful time for relatives—especially for the sons and daughters of the decedent.
If you have an elderly parent who has not yet created a will, it might be time to have the talk. Broaching the subject of creating a will with a parent can be difficult. Use these tips to help your parent understand the importance of creating a will now, before it is too late.
Explain that wills are for everyone
A common misconception is that estate planning tools such as wills and trusts are unnecessary for middle-income families. In reality, creating a will can benefit every family. Although legal documents such as wills may be more critical for high-value assets or complex estates, they are important for everyone. Explain to your parent that a will could help your family avoid arguments and stress regardless of the value of the estate.
Before you engage in a conversation about a last will with a parent, do your research to come prepared with important information that could help. Florida law requires all wills to be in writing, for example, with signatures from the testator and witnesses. Give your parent information such as how much it will cost to create a will, what information he or she will need and where to go for trustworthy legal services. Providing useful information could persuade your parent to get started right away.
Discuss the importance of honoring last wishes
Make sure your parent understands the source of your concern. Explain that you are not pushing the idea of a will because you are greedy and want to be a beneficiary, nor are you bringing it up because you are in any way looking forward to your parent’s death. Instead, explain that you are worried about how to honor your mother or father’s last wishes without a will. Describe your motivation as maintaining harmony in the family during what will be a very difficult time.