Many elderly people in the U.S. believe estate planning is something only the very wealthy need. If they only have a few major assets and modest back accounts, then they believe estate planning is unnecessary for them.
Many of their adult children know better, however.
The children know estate planning is an important responsibility for everyone regardless of wealth. While those children would like to talk their parents into estate planning they may find it difficult.
This topic was addressed by NJ 101.5 in "Talking to your parents about a will."
If you find yourself having this problem with your aging parents, there are some steps you can take.
First, explain to your parents that without an estate plan their estates will have to go through probate and everything will be distributed according to state law and not your parents' wishes. That means if they would like to leave something directly to their grandchildren, they will not be able to do so in most cases.
You can also talk to your parents about how costly and time-consuming probate can be and how it could be a burden on the family.
If all else fails and you can afford it, you might offer to pay for your parents to visit an estate planning attorney. They do not have to commit to anything before seeing the attorney, but the attorney can discuss the benefits of estate planning with your parents and give them some options.
Reference: NJ 101.5 (Nov. 1, 2016) "Talking to your parents about a will."