One of the most difficult things in life is to look after your own parents. This includes the oftentimes uncomfortable areas of estate planning and financial planning. Nevertheless, communication between generations is a must, not a maybe.
A recent article in The Oprah Magazine,titled“Sanity-Saving Secrets For Caring For Your Aging Parents,” suggests three questions to ask your parents right now.
1. Do you have a living will? There are about 72% of seniors who already have advance directives specifying end-of-life medical wishes, according to a recent study funded by the National Institute on Aging. That’s terrific, but make sure your parents are in that group. As long as you’re on the subject, see if their documents have been revised in the last five years and that you know its location.
2. Where's the money? Ok, maybe you can phrase this question a bit more gently. On the other hand, start with your parents' latest tax return to get an overview of their assets. Make a list of all of their account numbers. This should include savings and checking accounts, credit cards, and investments such as 401(k)s, brokerage accounts, and insurance policies. In addition, compile a list of the phone numbers for the customer service department at each financial institution or investment company. If they conduct their banking online, you also need to find out their passwords (or, at a minimum, make sure they add this info to a secure document you can access if needed).
3. Who are your advisers? You should make sure to get the names and contact information of the professionals on whom your parents rely.
The list of advisors can include any and all of the following:
- An accountant or CPA;
- A spiritual adviser;
- A primary care physician; and
- A qualified estate planning attorney.
There may be other medical specialists, such as an internist or cardiologist. Many seniors visit and are under the care of several physicians, particularly when they are managing several chronic conditions.
You'll need to coordinate all of the players on their legal, financial and healthcare team—physical therapists, technicians, and aides.
Contact them when you need input and support.
Reference: Huffington Post, The Oprah Magazine (December 19, 2014) “Sanity-Saving Secrets For Caring For Your Aging Parents”