model home and calculator on estate planning page

Having Hard Conversations: How to Cover Estate Planning Basics With Your Parents

As your parents get older, it's important for them to have a plan in place for end of life planning or in case anything should ever happen to them. If your parents don't have a will or other estate planning basics in place, it’s crucial to begin broaching the subject. The conversation is quite difficult as it is, so you'll want to proceed with empathy and patience. Many parents might even claim you're too worrisome or think they're incompetent, but this isn't the case. By having their affairs in order when they pass, your parents can ensure their wishes are met and provide direction for loved ones.

If you need help approaching this delicate subject with your parent, here are some things you'll want to talk about.

Having a Legal Will

A will is the most important document in the estate planning process. It determines what is done with a person's assets and liabilities.

Without a drafted legal will, your parent's money, house, and belongings are distributed as stated by Alberta's Wills and Succession Act.

It's best to go about making a will by visiting a lawyer who can make sure that all legal requirements are met, and your parents understand the extent to which the will deals with their estate and other wishes.

If your parents are having difficulty making an appointment to sort this out, be gentle but also firm. There is no telling what can happen in the future, even if they're healthy now. A will ensures that regardless of unfortunate circumstances, your parent's wishes are always carried out as they would want them to be.

Drafting an Enduring Power of Attorney

Though a will is the first step in the right direction, it's only one aspect of estate planning.

Your parents should also have a power of attorney in place. An enduring power of attorney is a document stating who has the legal right to act on behalf of an individual while they are still alive. These are important in cases of injury, illness, or incapacitation.

Without a power of attorney, your parent's risk someone having to be their court-appointed trustee. This can be anyone the court deems fit and is not automatically granted to the spouse or children. Once someone loses their capacity to grant a power of attorney, a trustee will have to be appointed.

In most cases, there is not enough time to obtain a trusteeship for the issues that arise. This is why having an enduring power of attorney appointed before anything happens is of the utmost importance.

Preparing a Personal Directive

This document will detail what your parents want for themselves if they ever become ill, unable to care for themselves, or otherwise unable to make sound decisions.

The personal directive describes what medical procedures they would or would not want for themselves, where they will live, and who is to take care of their children.

A personal directive gives your parent a choice to determine their future. It allows them to decide what happens to them even when they cannot make those decisions at the moment.

Consult First West Law for Estate Planning Basics

If you're struggling to talk to your parent about these estate planning basics, you're not alone. It's a difficult topic to bring up.

Know that by helping them prepare for end of life planning, you're helping them take control of those important moments. Approach the conversation in a way you know they'll be most receptive to and recommend a law office to handle the documents.

First West Law knows that estate planning can be difficult, which is why we will make it as easy as possible for you and your parent to get the proper documents in place. Contact our qualified lawyers at First West Law in Calgary to get more information about the estate planning process.