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As you grew into adulthood, you may have started thinking about having to take care of your parents as they got older. You may have accepted this possibility and felt willing to provide that care when the time came. Of course, you did not want to overstep your boundaries, especially when that need seemed far off in the future, so you did not bring it up to your parents.

Now, years have passed since you first had those thoughts, and your parents are reaching their elderly years. You may also have noticed some concerning signs of possible mental decline in at least one of your parents, such as minor forgetfulness. As a result, you feel that it is time to talk about their estate plans.

How can you handle the situation?

You may want to give your parents the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have created a plan. Asking whether they do have a plan could be a great starting point. If they have created one, you can ask what documents it includes and where you can find those documents. However, the possibility also exists that your parents have not done any planning. If so, remember not to berate them for putting it off. Instead, offer encouragement and explain how helpful a plan could be.

It is important to remain patient during this time because your parents may not feel ready to have a full-blown discussion about their estate-planning wishes the first time you bring it up. If they seem reluctant, you can allow them time to think, but let them know you want to discuss it more later. You may also want to remember that thinking about illness or death is not easy for most people, so being empathetic and compassionate could help.

Who should you talk to?

Though your parents are the most important people in this conversation, as it is their wishes on the table, you may also need to keep other family members in the loop. If you have siblings, you certainly do not want to seem as if you are going behind their backs and trying to control your parents. Letting them in on the conversation could also allow them to better understand your parents’ wishes.

Additionally, you may want to consult with a Colorado attorney during this time. Even if you are not doing the planning, an attorney could help bring up topics you or your parents may not have considered important to the planning process. Plus, when the time comes to create their documents, your parents will already have a legal advocate with whom to move forward.