While no one wants to think about a time when our parents are no longer around, the truth is, that day will come and there are actions we can take now to be better prepared. So although it may be an uncomfortable conversation, talking to your parents about their estate plan and end-of-life decisions will help you ensure that their wishes are carried out.
The first thing to remember is to start the conversation early. Waiting until your parents become ill or incapacitated will make it difficult to get the information you need.
Also be prepared to dislike some of their answers. While you may not agree with their decisions, your parents have the right to make their own choices about medical treatments and life support measures. You may discover that they feel as strongly about an issue as you do even though you’re on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Being able to set aside your own preferences to honor those of your parents is a great show of respect.
Don’t try to cover everything in one sitting – there’s just too much to discuss. In addition to finding out about funeral arrangements and life insurance policies, you’ll also want to talk about their retirement finances, the possibility of needing long term care and, of course, their estate plan.
Do they have a Will? Has it been updated recently? You need to know where these documents are kept as well as who to contact in case something happens. Are certain personal items to go to specific people? Are those bequests in writing? You can also use some of these conversations to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge your parents have about your family history. Make some video and/or audio recordings as they tell stories and share memories from their lifetime. These will be precious treasures that you can pass down to future generations.
Attorney at Law