By: Jim Miller, The Savvy Senior
Most adult children don’t know much about their elderly parents’ end-of-life plans, but they need to. Getting up to speed on their finances, legal documents and funeral decisions is important because some day you might have to help them handle their financial affairs or care, or execute their estate and funeral plan after they die. Without this information, your job becomes much more difficult. Here are some tips that can help you become better informed.
Start by having a thoughtful, direct conversation with your parents. If you’re uncomfortable talking to them about this topic, use this article as a prompter. If you have siblings, it’s a good idea to get them involved too so your parents will know everyone is concerned.
When you have your talk, you’ll need to find out where your parents keep key documents and how they want certain things handled when they die or if they become incapacitated. Here are three areas to focus on.
Because fewer than half of Americans have prepared a will, it’s very important to find out if your parents have an updated will or trust and where it’s located.
Also, find out if they have a power of attorney document that names someone to handle their financial matters if they become incapacitated, as well as an advance directive, which includes a living will and a medical power of attorney that spells out their wishes regarding their end-of-life medical treatment.
If they don’t have these documents prepared, now’s the time to make them.
Find out where your parents keep their important financial information including their bank and investment records, insurance policies, retirement and/or pension benefits, tax returns and bills, along with any property deeds, titles, loans or lease agreements.
In addition, get the names and contact information of their lawyer, accountant, broker, tax preparer and insurance agents so you can call them to help you sort things out if needed.
Knowing your parents’ funeral plans or preferences in advance can significantly reduce your stress of making these arrangements at an emotional time after their death. Plus it ensures their final farewell will be exactly what they want.
Whether you’re helping your parents pre-plan their funerals or are gathering information so you can do it for them later, your parents will need to make a number of decisions such as; whether they want to be buried or cremated; whether they prefer a formal, religious funeral or a simple memorial service; and what music they want to be played at their service?
For a more detailed list of funeral and memorial planning questions, download the Checklist. This will help your parents determine what they want, and how they want to be remembered.
About Jim Miller Jim Miller is the creator of Savvy Senior (savvysenior.org), a syndicated information column for boomers and seniors that is published in more than 400 newspapers and magazines nationwide.
Jim is also a contributor to NBC’s “Today” show and KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, author of The Savvy Senior: The Ultimate Guide to Health, Family and Finances for Senior Citizens (Hyperion, 2004), creator of the Senior Newswire service (seniornewswire.org), and voices a one-minute radio tip of the week that is broadcast in more than 1,000 senior centers and assisted living facilities via Golden Age Entertainment.
Jim has been featured in numerous high-profile publications, including Time magazine, USA Today and The New York Times, and has made multiple appearances on CNBC, CNN, Retirement Living Television and national public television