If you have elderly parents, you may be wondering how you approach the subject of estate planning with them. It’s not an easy conversation to have and it does not come up naturally in ordinary every day conversation. Because no one likes to talk about death, you may have been putting off this important conversation. But you shouldn’t.

Although planning is important for everyone, it takes on even greater importance the older a person gets. Some typical estate planning documents that are essential for elderly people are:

  1. A will or a trust to provide for the passing of their assets
  2. A long-term health care plan and living will
  3. Documents that give financial and medical decision making authority to a trusted person (commonly known as power of attorneys) in the event of incapacity

Here are some tips for broaching this delicate subject with your parent(s):

Choose the right time. You may want to bring up the subject nonchalantly over a cup of coffee or while out for a walk rather than scheduling a more formal meeting. It’s often easier for one child to have a separate conversation rather than all children “ganging up” on the parents.

Have an easy opening: Start with a story about your own estate planning or recent news of a celebrity death to open the conversation. Then, gently ease into the real questions.

Be ready to help: Your parents may know that they need estate planning documents but may be overwhelmed and not know where to start. Help them figure out what documents they need and have recommendations of trusted financial and legal professionals to assist them.

While no amount of preparation can prepare you for the emotions you face when your parents die or become disabled, consulting an estate planning lawyer and having a plan in place for your family will provide a certain peace of mind to both you and your parents.