Talking to your aging parents about their end-of-life plans may become an emotional and challenging process you would rather avoid. However, waiting to find out about your family’s estate until after your parents die limits the extent of what you know about their wishes.
Holding frank discussions and asking the right questions ahead of time gets all the critical information out in the open and gives more planning opportunities.
1. Can you create a list of all your trusted contacts?
Record the information of contacts whom your parents trust (e.g., phone numbers, emails, mailing addresses). This list should include individuals such as their insurance agent, estate attorney, physicians, financial advisor, tax preparer and close friends.
2. Where are your legal documents stored?
Firstly, find out if your parents have a will and other important estate planning paperwork, such as a living trust, power of attorney and health care proxy. You should know the location of and how to access these legal documents. This is also an excellent opportunity to look if these documents need updates.
3. What are your wishes for your estate?
Ask your parents questions about how they want their estate settled. Gather information on charitable donations, secret personal property or any other special wishes they have.
4. Who are the named beneficiaries on your accounts?
Create a list of the beneficiaries listed on your parents’ accounts, like bank accounts or taxable investment accounts. Look for TOD or POD on the statements to find their beneficiary names. Help your parents choose who to name on funds that do not already have designated beneficiaries.
Aim to learn about your parents’ estate planning wishes to alleviate future misunderstandings and limit family disputes when the executor settles the estate.