There are many moments in life when it comes time to have “the talk”, whether it is about marriage, children, divorce, or other personal concerns, there are some inevitable moments at which we must have difficult conversations with the ones we love. Estate planning can often be one of those moments and figuring out how to broach the subject and have “the talk” can be difficult and emotionally tense.
However hard it is to sit down with children, a spouse, or parents and discuss estate planning issues, experts agree that it must be done. Without having these important conversations it can be very time consuming, difficult, and expensive to sort out of a loved one's affairs after they pass away.
For example – do you know whether or not your parents still hold a mortgage on the house? Do you think you know the answer to that question? Even if you recall a parent mentioning that they had paid off their mortgage, they may have a home equity line of credit or a second mortgage that you do not know about. This means that when they pass away the hunt will begin for documents with important clues, but those items may be hard to find before a loan goes into default and the house is in jeopardy.
This is where the talk comes into play. Discussing these issues in advance can save time and energy and can ensure that the family home will not be put in jeopardy. Even having a basic talk about whether or not a plan has been made and where crucial documents are stored can help make the process easier when a loved one is no longer with us.
Source: New York Times, “The Talk You Didn't Have With Your Parents Could Cost You,” Tara Siegel Bernard, May 24, 2013.