In the last 18 months or so, I've witnessed two close friends lose their fathers. I've also witnessed what they've gone through trying to get financial affairs in order after their fathers' deaths.
Death is not easy. No one wants to talk about it. But, unfortunately, you don't even have a second to breathe after someone passes before you need to deal with financials.
If you're lucky, your parents are smart enough to have their affairs in order for when that day comes. But, not everyone is that lucky. In fact, 64% of Americans don't have a will.
After seeing what my friends went through losing their fathers, I knew it was time for my family and I have a talk about my parents' wills. The loss of a loved one is hard enough as it is. Having to deal with a lack of will makes things far worse.
The “We Need to Talk About Your Will” conversation
My parents are pretty cool people. Fortunately, they are also pretty level headed when it comes to stuff like death, so the initial "We need to talk about making wills" conversation wasn't that bad.
However, one thing I did notice is that a lot of people have the assumption that wills are for the ultra-wealthy. This is simply not the case. If you have any assets and people you're leaving behind, you need a will. Otherwise, a whole lot of stuff can get tied up in court.
Nudging your parents along
Even parents who aren't intentionally avoiding a conversation about death sometimes need a little nudging to make sure they get their affairs in order. And let's face it, life gets in the way.
I definitely had to do some (gentle) nudging to get my parents to set up a meeting with an attorney. I even went as far as getting them referrals so they wouldn't have to find the attorney themselves.
When it came to my parents' houses, I found the title company and started the paperwork to add mine and my brothers' name to the deeds. That way all my parents had to do was sign the documents to start the process and then go sign the deeds.
I basically made it as easy as possible for my parents. After all, all this stuff makes them face their own mortality so it can't be easy for them.
Managing your emotions
I write about money for a living, so I can take my emotions out of dealing with things like money after death pretty easily. The way I see it, my parents having a will is a necessity.
With that being said, this process can be emotional for all parties involved. It's your job to remember that no one is dying yet, and it's better to deal with this now than after someone passes.