How to talk your parents into getting a will
By Maplebrook Wills
22nd Nov '18
A difficult subject
Discussing death is difficult at the best of times, but it’s even harder when you have to talk about your own inevitable passing. So how do you persuade parents without a will to get one?
Here are five steps that could help.
1. Get a will yourself
It sounds obvious, but if you’ve already gone through the process of getting a will, it becomes that much easier to persuade someone else to do the same. You’ll be able to tell them how painless and inexpensive it is to use a professional will writer compared to the cost of a high street solicitor. Plus, it won’t take much time out of their day. At Maplebrook Wills, we’ll visit their house for a couple of hours so they don’t even need to go anywhere. With your own estate planning in place, you can mention how much more confident you feel about the future.
2. Mention it often
The idea of sitting in a living room to discuss “the will” is pretty daunting in itself. So make sure that your first mentions of the idea are casual. Use the example of a family or friend who died without a will (that is, ‘intestate’) and how difficult it was to sort out their estate. If you can’t think of anyone, find a news story about someone online. Slip these case studies into a phone call or conversation over lunch. After a while, they’ll hopefully decide it’s time to to act.
3. Talk about health instead of money
Many people find it difficult to talk to parents about wills because, ultimately, it’s about money – and who gets it. If there are several siblings, they may wish to avoid favouritism. So instead of discussing it with you alone, they’ll postpone the conversation to a future date that never comes. The way around this is to talk about failing health, and what happens if they become incapacitated in future. A legal document called the lasting power of attorney (LPA) gives someone else the ability to help them by making decisions on their behalf. An LPA is a document available from professional will writers like Maplebrook Wills. Talking about it may make them more receptive to discussing a will later on.
4. Involve a relative or friend
Let’s say you’ve hit a brick wall – they’re just not going to discuss it with you. If that’s the case, consider talking to aunts, uncles or other relatives who are close to your parents. See if they’d be prepared to bring up the topic in the course of conversation, ensuring that they have their own will and LPA in place. Close friends or former work colleagues may do the same for you. Of course it’s entirely possible that they may not want to get involved, but it’s worth a try.
5. Learn about intestacy
Intestacy is when someone dies without a will. The most important factor to remember is that the law decides who should benefit, and there’s a strict pecking order that’s always adhered to. The law doesn’t recognise so-called ‘common law’ partners. If you’re married or in a civil partnership, your estate passes to your surviving spouse or civil partner – even if you’re in a new relationship. Children and grandchildren are next in line. Without a will, the law gets to choose an executor – the person who administers your estate.
With all this in mind, it’s good to be able to offer practical help if – or hopefully when – they decide it’s time to get a will and an LPA.