It’s None of Your Business   Leave a comment

“It’s none of your business.”  That is what my mother told me when I first asked about my parents will. And my father agreed with her.

Then, with a twinkle in her eye she said, “What are you planning to do with the money?” I protested that it was not about the money, I was 40 years old, had a Wharton MBA and felt I deserved to know what their plans were.

Then, as she was enjoying the back and forth she went into mock  Jewish guilt trip mode.  “What did we do to deserve this?” ” “Haven’t we been good parents?” And finally, “Do you want me and your father dead?”

The fact was that both of my parents were healthy at the time and honestly didn’t see the necessity in involving me in their estate planning.  I wasn’t even the executor of their wills at that point. My mother was toying with me, but at the same time, she didn’t give me the information I sought.

The early conversations did not go well from my perspective, although I am sure they went swimmingly from my parents’ perspective. But, little by little, over a period of months I began to chip away at their defenses.  I explained that I was interested in understanding their desires as it related to their assets and that they didn’t have to tell me the dollar amounts if that made them uncomfortable. They, meanwhile, had rewritten their will and made my sister and me co-executors of the surviving spouse’s will.  By the time my father had his stroke, my mother was completely willing to talk with me about all aspects of their estate planning.

This is a conversation that you should have while your parents are alive and well.

Tip: Be persistent. Find out what the objection is to having the conversation and try to allay fears.  Use a variety of approaches.  Ask with your siblings present. Explain the importance.  Tell worst-case scenarios. Explain the benefits of maintaining their legacy.

Information found on this web site is for general informational purposes only based on personal experience and should not be construed as legal, tax or other professional advice. You should consult an experienced attorney , tax professional or financial advisor concerning your particular factual situation and any specific questions you may have.

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