Asking someone about the state of their Will can quickly become a social faux-pas (death and money aren’t exactly fun topics), but when the need for a Will starts becoming a reality, it’s a conversation that needs to happen. So how do you broach the topic in a way that won’t make you look like a gold digger? Here’s four key tips from us to you.
Don’t wait until there’s a crisis
Bringing up the topics of death and money at a stressful time can just compound that stress and lead to breakdowns in communication. Especially if your parent has just gone through a medical scare, they’re probably feeling very frightened about the whole thing and would prefer not to think about it too much.
Instead, try to broach the topic in a more casual setting, such as over dinner or while you’re out shopping together. Everyone feels more comfortable in their own home, too, and a private location can help a lot.
Don’t make it all about the money
Money and assets are the contents of the Will, yes, but those things are ultimately the purview of the person writing the Will. Let them make those decisions (if they’re able), and they’ll consult with you about them if they want to.
Instead, make sure you know these important things for when the unthinkable does happen:
- Where they keep important documents, including their Will
- Who they’ve named executor of their Will
- Who they’ve named power of attorney
- Their preferences for potential long-term care
- Their wishes for their funeral.
Don’t make the conversation about you
Like we said above, the contents of the Will are ultimately up to the person writing it. Ergo, if you argue with them, lecture them, or otherwise try to control their choices, you will end up looking petulant, and probably have a negative effect on your position in the Will. Ever seen the movie Knives Out? It’s just like that.
When you do talk about the Will, make sure you let them lead the conversation, listen without judgement, and focus on their wants and concerns. Get a good picture of what has been done and what still needs doing, and offer to help if needed.
Explore other avenues for discussion
Let’s face it: sometimes people just don’t want to talk about these things. If your parents have a solicitor, financial advisor, accountant, or even just a close friend or confidant who can talk to them objectively, try reaching out to them. This person can bring up the subject of a Will in a way that might feel more pragmatic or professional — less personal, and less scary.
We've explained how to talk to your parents about their legal Will, but you might still wondering why it's so important to talk to your parents about their Will. At the end of the day, everyone does need a Will — even if it’s not something we want to think about. Just respect your parent’s wishes, don’t press the issue too hard, and keep your expectations in check, and everything should run smoothly.
Know that it needn't take a long time or cost a lot of money to get a legal Will in place. You can write one in just 15 minutes at willed.com.au.