Talking With Your Parents About the Future
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If your parents either have not made plans for their future, including health provisions, asset protection, and living arrangements, or they have not informed the family of their plans, this holiday season is a good opportunity to have that talk. One conversation opener is to lead by example--in other words share with your family that you are planning for the future and in getting your documents together you have found that there are a lot of critical matters that are important to attend to. Share with them that if trauma strikes, you want to make sure they're all able to attend to each others' emotional needs, not be bogged down by business matters or uncertain about wishes. Our blog has several articles that make good fodder for conversation, for example What Happens to Your Digital Life When You Die?How Robin Williams Used Trusts to Protect His Family, and, a heavier but highly informational article, Estate Planning Isn't Just About Death, It Also Comes Into Play When You Get Sick and Live. Once the ice is broken, you can loop the topic back to them. Ask what kinds of provisions they have made, or if they have thought about and planned for their future. Ask if they have specific wishes. Take-aways from this conversation should be:
  • Whether your parents have the key documents in place: a will, advance directive, medical power of attorney, and durable power of attorney
  • Where they keep their documents, including bank statements, investments, and tax returns
  • Whether there are any assets outside the home, for example safety deposit boxes
  • What their digital assets are, and their passwords
If your parents are reticent to share all of this information, propose that they record it in a centralized location with instruction on how to access it if something happens. On the other hand, if they readily see the gravity of having a future plan in place, you may want to propose they meet with an estate planner to make sure they protect the assets they have worked so hard to earn. What to Expect When Meeting With an Estate Planner would be a good article to share.

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