Nov 02, 2008

Talking to Your Parents About Estate Planning

Those of us with young children and older parents know all about the stress involved in caring for two generations at the same time. It's not easy juggling soccer games, school open houses, and parents who need looking after.

One thing you can do to make things easier in the long run is to talk to your parents -- now -- about whether they've done any estate planning. Although it is difficult to have that conversation, it can make a huge difference to what happens after a parent dies. Planning now means that you'll have a lot less to juggle later. You might even discover that your parents really appreciate your help in getting their affairs together.

Here (with thanks to Leanna Hamill and her estate planning blog) are 10 good questions, from Real Simple Magazine, that you can use to get the conversation started:

  • Do you feel comfortable about your financial situation? Would a financial planner be helpful?
  • Do you have an estate plan?
  • Who should handle your finances if you become ill?
  • In the event you become seriously ill, what sort of interventions would you like?
  • Do you have enough health insurance?
  • Do you feel your doctor is well-informed about the issues facing older patients?
  • Can we help make your home more comfortable?
  • Are you feeling secure about driving?
  • Can you share your thoughts about your funeral?
  • Can you compile a list of all your important information?

It is possible (likely) that your parents don't have answers to all of these. But it's a great place to start working with them to get things in place. And one EXCELLENT way to get the process started, of course, is for you to do your estate plan and use that as a way to begin the conversation with them.