Break the Taboo

By Reid, Bill | Independent Banker, October 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Break the Taboo

Reid, Bill, Independent Banker

Help your customers talk to their parents about estate planning

Many of your bank's customers whose parents are still alive probably don't even know if their parents have a will. Most have probably never asked. Maybe they don't want to consider their parents' deaths. Or perhaps they fear any such questions would provoke an angry retort on the order of, "Mind your own business!" You know the consequences of avoiding such discussions, though. One day children find themselves rummaging through an empty house, searching for important documents. Or, they must wait through months of probate proceedings before they can claim what is rightfully theirs.

To help your customers avoid such fates, you must help them overcome their resistance to discussing two taboo topics-money and death. Can it be done? Psychotherapist Tessa Albert Warschaw insists it can. She offers five basic tips on how to initiate and conduct conversations about estate planning.

1. Broach the subject indirectly-Parents avoid planning their estates for any number of reasons. Maybe they're not ready to contemplate death or consider how to divide their property. Having a child march into their home to ask if they've drafted a will may not serve as a call to action. The parents might rebuff their son or daughter simply because they're embarrassed to admit they haven't done anything yet.

Children may have greater luck spurring parents into action if they try a subtle approach like mentioning another family's experience.

More than likely, your customers know a friend whose father suffered a stroke, or a neighbor whose mother developed Alzheimer's disease. These situations are compounded if the children can't make financial, legal or medical decisions on their parents' behalf. Hearing about the turmoil another family faced might prompt your customer's parents to meet with you or an attorney. Adult children can reveal what they've done to protect their own children. By explaining how they worked with an attorney and financial adviser to set up a living trust or draft a will, adult children can take some of the mystery out of estate planning. They may even inspire their parents to imitate their actions.

2. Be sensitive to family dynamics-Put to rest parents' concerns about sibling rivalries. Maybe your customer's parents know your customer was always competitive with a sibling. The parents might interpret any questions about their estate as an attempt to wrest control of the family's estate. In that case, you might suggest the two children talk to each other first and then meet with their parents together.

Build the parents' confidence in their grown children's money management skills.

Maybe your male customer's father is reluctant to trust his son with his financial affairs because of some bad money decisions he made in the past. In that case, you might suggest the son bring along his father to his next meeting with you.

The son doesn't have to reveal how much he has invested. But when his father sees he's acted responsibly, he may realize his son can be trusted to handle financial affairs.

3. Tailor the message to the recipient-Let "take-charge" and reserved parents take in estate-planning information on their own.

Authoritarian parents and those who like to keep their own counsel probably won't sit through a conversation in which their children make recommendations on estate planning. For these parents, adult children, with your help, could put together information on planning one's estate in a packet with your card included.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Break the Taboo


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?