If your parents are healthy and active, but getting older, now is a great time to speak with them about how they want things handled later in life including their estate plan, health care and finances. Waiting too long to have this important conversation can make things much more difficult; however, knowing where to start is never easy. Real Simple Magazine has compiled a helpful list to get you thinking about topics worth talking about with your parents as they age.
Ten Estate Planning Questions to Start the Conversation
1. Do you feel comfortable about your financial situation? Would a financial planner be helpful?
2. Do you have a written will? Does someone you trust know where it is?
3. Are you willing to have a joint checking account with me so I can help you pay bills if necessary?
4. Can we discuss how I can help you handle some of your financial responsibilities, like reviewing credit-card statements and paying some bills?
5. Will you give me or another trusted person power of attorney over your financial affairs in case there’s a time you can’t handle them yourself?
6. Have you thought about what kind of medical treatment you want in the future and who would make those decisions if you can’t make or communicate them on your own? Have you put these desires in writing?
7. Do you have enough health insurance?
8. How do you feel about being kept alive with ventilators, feeding tubes, or other interventions? And under what circumstances would you want that? Do we all understand what these terms mean?
9. Can you share your thoughts about your funeral?
10. Can you compile a list of all your important information?
The full list of living-situation, health and financial questions can be found here.
Even if the answer to one or more of these questions is “I don’t know,” it’s important to get the question out there and keep talking about it over time. Knowing what your parents want for themselves will help you feel secure in how you handle situations that may arise. These conversations will also let your parents know you’re thinking about their wellbeing and will give them a sense of empowerment knowing that they are making the decisions themselves. After all, most people want to be cared about not cared for.
Finally, remember that these conversations don’t have to happen all at once. The important thing is to start the conversation and see where things lead. When appropriate, be sure to call in professionals to help; whether it’s a Massachusetts attorney to review and draft an estate plan, a financial planner to help make financial decisions or a contractor to make modifications to the home, you don’t have to go it alone.