A will is so much more than a piece of paper that tells you who gets what when a loved one passes away. Wills are tools that help protect assets, enact medical directives, and ensure others meet a person’s final wishes. However, because of the many misconceptions about the process of creating a will and what wills are for, many people that need wills won’t write them. This leaves their children wondering what to do when an elderly parent refuses to write a will.
Understand That You Can’t Force Them
At the end of the day, you can’t force anyone to write a will. And even if you could, it likely wouldn’t hold up in court. There are ways to talk to your parents about estate planning. But ultimately, the best thing you can do is give them resources and the help they need to write one. Often, parents may refuse to write a will because it’s a frightening prospect or they feel they don’t have enough assets to warrant one. In these cases, it may just take time and gentle nudging, but guiding them through the process and doing some of the initial legwork can help.
Make Your Intentions Clear
It’s natural for someone’s guard to be up when talking about their will. After all, what you’re really discussing is what will happen after they pass away, which people don’t often enjoy thinking about. To help ease any initial tensions, be open and honest and avoid having any hidden intentions. Tell them the truth about why you want them to write a will and how you think it can benefit them and your family. If a person senses dishonesty, they’ll be much more likely to clam up and dig their heels in.
Concede to Taking Small Steps
If an elderly parent refuses to write a will, the best thing you can do for them and yourself is to give them the space to make small steps and changes. They simply won’t dive into the world of estate planning overnight, and expecting them to do so will only leave you with a headache. Help them through the process of looking for an attorney, and let them mull over the idea of speaking with one. Also, appointing a person with power of attorney (POA) is quick, easy, and inexpensive. Your parent may be more willing to get simple tasks like this done. And in this case, something is much better than nothing.
Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney
As mentioned, you can’t force anyone to write a will, but you may be able to sit them down with an attorney so that they can explain the advantages of it. Remember that most of the time, when someone refuses to write a will, it’s because of misinformation or fear. While you can talk with them and provide them with resources, an estate planning attorney is really the only one who can give them all the correct information. In doing so, you may even give yourself a little more peace of mind.