How to Talk About Estate Planning

Finances can be a touchy topic no matter the conversation—from salary discussions to planning for marriage or talking about debt, many people feel uncomfortable. It can be even more difficult when individuals are getting older and the financial topic is estate planning. Adult children of aging parents may wish to make sure their parents can manage their assets effectively. When a family business is concerned, the need to involve everyone impacted in the estate planning discussion can be even greater. Below are three things to consider when trying to start an estate planning conversation.

1. People resist change.

People generally resist change, but this can manifest in different ways. Considering which way your parent or aging loved one may be resistant to change—whether they fail to see a problem altogether or disagree with you as to the solution—can help you formulate the right questions to ask. For any level of resistance, involving a business succession or estate planning attorney can help pinpoint the best questions to ask and the right information needed to move the process forward.

2. Determine how assets are currently structured.

The current structure of your parent or loved ones’ assets can guide the next steps. For example, if your family member owns a business, they may already have a succession plan in place. But other issues may still be in play. For example, they may self-manage and own all assets themselves, which might require some separation in the future. Or they may have plans for their business, but not their own retirement or personal asset management—or the other way around. Asking questions to figure out the current state of affairs can guide your loved ones toward thinking about practical considerations. Sometimes some positioning is needed before transitioning to the next stage of estate planning.

3. Who is or can be involved in planning and management?

Even if a general plan is in place, the question of who will execute all of these plans may still be in the air. For family businesses, for example, your parent or loved one may think a family member should take over ownership or management—but it’s possible that there is no one available who would be willing to take on the role. Starting this discussion early will help guide the correct conversations to figure out a realistic path forward. In some cases, a business may not be able to thrive after an owner or manager retires or passes on, in which case a plan for sale should be discussed.

Speak with a Houston Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you or your loved ones need help planning for retirement or beyond and you do not know where to start, contact a skilled estate planning attorney. The Houston attorneys at McCulloch Miller, PLLC are skilled in a wide range of estate planning and elder law topics and can help you with business succession planning, estate planning, and more. Call a member of our team today at (713) 903-7879.


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