Jason Lampa’s latest article, “Critical conversations: Baby boomers taking responsibility for aging parents,” discusses the importance of boomers talking about trust services with their aging parents, I decided to ask him a few questions of my own.
Sarah B (SB) Why is it important for boomers to discuss trust services with their aging parents?
Jason Lampa (JL): The estate planning process can seem overwhelming, especially to older individuals who may not be aware of the options available to them. It is important that baby boomers with parents in this situation educate themselves on the basics of trust services with a will and why they are superior to that of a simple will. In addition, providing their parents with the tools to make better decisions can also have a monetary benefit to them in the long run. A will alone will not avoid probate court, which takes a significant amount of time and money. These costs take away from assets accumulated through a lifetime of hard work by the deceased. In addition, while an individual may appoint an executor in a will, it the probate lawyers who will control the actual distribution of the individual's property; another expense. To avoid these costs, baby boomers should to talk to their parents about establishing a living trust. A living trust, in most cases, is an estate planning tool that will help avoid probate proceedings. Also, a living trust protects a family’s privacy, remaining confidential. A will becomes part of public record.
SB: Why is this typically a hard task for baby boomers to accomplish?
JL: Familiarity breeds contempt and often is hard for parents to take advice from their children, even though the children may know more than them on a certain issue. Many parents of baby boomers are entering a phase in their lives where they are not as sharp as they once were. When people do not feel like they have the tools to be successful, they get frustrated. Hence, when adult children sit down with their aging parents, the conversation can turn hostile when the parents have not been given the opportunity to educate themselves on the matter. Providing them with education will empower the parents to want to have meaningful discussions.
SB: What are a few suggestions on ways for boomers to approach this discussion?
JL: Though initiating conversations on trust services and estate planning can be uncomfortable it is critical they take place. One method of initiating conversation is to share an article or watch a TV program with a parent pertaining to these issues. It is also helpful to invite a financial advisor or friend of the family the parents respect to the meeting because it takes the spotlight off of the adult child and allows for meaningful dialogue between multiple parties.