Discussing the future with your parents
Getting information now can lead to peace of mind later
No one likes to think about getting old, much less talk about it. But as your parents age, you and your siblings need to get certain information from them to make sure their wishes are met and to give yourselves peace of mind about their financial well-being.
When you sit down together, here are a few questions you should ask:
- Are estate documents such as wills, trusts, and beneficiary information up-to-date? Were they reviewed after a marriage or divorce, family births and deaths and tax law changes?
- Where are important documents such as wills, life insurance policies and the deed to their home? If they’re kept in a safe deposit box, who has access? (If you and your siblings don’t live nearby, you should get copies.)
- If both of your parents are still alive, do they have enough life insurance to provide for each other?
- What are their bank, brokerage and retirement savings account numbers?
- What are their sources of income, and do they expect to have enough for the rest of their lives? Do they anticipate needing your financial support? If so, how much would they need each month?
- Who are their attorneys and financial professionals, and how can you contact them? Do they know how to reach you?
- Have they completed a living will and made arrangements for healthcare proxies, powers of attorney and executors of their estate? Have they notified the people they’ve designated?
- What should you do in case of an emergency?
- Do they have supplemental Medicare insurance, a Medicare prescription drug plan and long-term care insurance? If not, do they need to consider them?
- Who are their doctors, and how can you reach them? Do their doctors have your contact information? What’s the name of their pharmacy, what conditions are they being treated for, and which prescription or over-the-counter drugs do they take?
Other issues to talk about
- Where do your parents want to live when they can no longer live alone? Have they explored assisted-living facilities or nursing homes? Do they expect to live with you or your siblings?
- If your parents ever need full-time medical care, would they prefer to be taken care of at home?
- What are their wishes regarding funeral and burial?
Getting your parents to open up may not be easy, but once you do, you’ll all feel better about the future.