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When an Elderly Parent Refuses to Write a Will

Published on August 24th, 2018

As children find themselves taking on the responsibility of caring for aging parents, the topic of estate planning often comes up. If you’ve found at that your elderly parent does not have a Will, it is a good idea to encourage them to create one. However, confronting the socially awkward topics of money and death can often cause a parent to stubbornly refuse to create a Will. Read on for some tips on how to handle an elderly parent refusing to write a Will.

Why Your Elderly Parent Should Write a Will

Creating a Will gives your parent the power to determine what happens to their property and assets when they die. A comprehensive Will can:

  • Allow your parent to appoint an executor. This person will be responsible for carrying out their wishes and obeying the laws of your state.

o Otherwise, the court will appoint someone

  • Name the beneficiaries who will inherit their estate

o Otherwise, state law will decide who inherits the estate

  • Name the beneficiaries who will NOT inherit their estate

o Otherwise, and potentially against your parent’s desire, state law will decide who inherits their estate

  • Minimize legal frustration during an emotional time

o Otherwise, the probate process can become stressful and expensive

How to Talk to Your Parent About Writing a Will

If things get tense when you bring up writing a Will, there are a few steps to take to make your parent more comfortable with the idea:

  • Consult with other family members, like your siblings. You might even agree to all get your Wills done at the same time, so your elderly parent doesn’t feel so isolated and singled out in the experience.
  • Be honest about your motives. Make it clear why you are broaching the subject. Your motivation should be focused on your seeing your parent’s wishes through and minimizing legal costs and frustrations after their death.
  • Be prepared. Do some research on how to create a Will, what it costs, and the pros/cons of writing one. Coming to the conversations with resources will better allow you to explain why you think creating a Will is so important and explain that the process isn’t as complicated as they might think.
  • Listen. In the course of pursuing this topic, listen to your parent and be sensitive to their hesitation and fears. It can be difficult to talk about finances and death, and it may take a while to warm them up to the idea.

You Can’t Force Anyone to Write a Will

In the end, you can’t force your elderly parent to write a Will. You can only provide them with information and resources. Even if you get them into a lawyer’s office, they are still the one to sign the document.

If you’d like to make an appointment for you and your elderly parent to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney.

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