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Encouraging a parent’s estate planning without undue influence

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Often, older people need some convincing to put an estate plan in place. No one likes to consider what will happen after they die. Ironically, the longer you put off developing an estate plan and the older you are when you do, the more unnerving that task can be. 

Many adults with aging parents want them to develop their estate plan while they’re still of sound mind. However, getting them to do it may require giving them some help. It’s crucial that this help not be considered “undue influence.” 

That’s especially important if you have siblings or other family members who might feel they didn’t get the inheritance they were expecting – and if your parent is widowed or divorced, without a spouse to consult. So how do you do what’s needed to get that estate plan established while making sure there can be no legitimate cause for concern by others in the family?

Be sure competence is established

If your parent is fully capable of making and understanding their decisions, their physician can write a letter attesting to the fact to include with their estate plan. Further, it’s crucial for your parent to have independent communication with their estate planning attorney. 

Even if you recommend an attorney and drive them to meetings, you shouldn’t be part of their conversations – at least when it comes to determining inheritances. If your parent has experienced legal guidance, you can be confident that you won’t be allowed to do anything – even unintentionally – that could be considered exerting undue or inappropriate influence.

Communication is key

If you have siblings, it’s a good idea to let them know that you’ve gotten your parent to agree to put their estate plan in place. This way, they can’t say you did anything behind their back. Let them know that you’re committed to staying out of it beyond providing transportation and other logistical help. 

It’s typically best whenever someone puts their estate plan in place if they give their heirs some idea of what to expect. Encourage your parent to talk with the family during and after the process – especially if they aren’t dividing assets equally among their children.

As noted, by having experienced legal guidance, you shouldn’t have to worry that you’ll cross a line you shouldn’t as your parent develops their estate plan, and you can rest assured that their wishes are codified.