8 Steps to Have the “Talk” with your Elders

Written by Robert Nickerson

There’s no denying that having an estate plan can bring a lot of negative thoughts about your loved ones; especially death. But there’s also no denying that every family needs one. We can prepare as much as we want for the future, but there’s one thing we can never predict: timing.  Timing reflects a lot of things: timing of sickness, timing of accidents, timing of health, and of course, timing of death. Because of that, don’t assume everything will be automatically taken care of.
Of course, the next step is a tough one: having “the talk” with your elderly parents about planning for the inevitable. Believe it or not, this is a much harder “talk” then the “talk” you have with your teenage children. Your parents will probably try to defer the subject or explain that they’d rather have this conversation in another ten years. In fact, I cant guarantee a proven formula where they won’t get emotional. But I do have some ideas that will make having this conversation a lot easier. 

  1. Plan Whatever You Can. The biggest concern of your elderly loved ones is wanting to know whose going to take care of who, especially with what their estate is going to be once their gone.
  2. Identify Key People. Be ready to already have a good idea of people close to them your going to name. This will potentially include Doctors, Attorneys, Accountants/Financial Planners, Insurance Brokers, Minsters of religion, and closest friends.
  3. Bring up the Topic of a Will. You will definitely need to know if your parents or your loved ones already have a will. If so, check it to see if it’s still what they want. If not, get one set up.
  4. Talk about a POA or Power of Attorney. Are you or someone else already set up as a power of attorney? This is someone who is assigned to make financial, legal, and medical decisions when the person normally in charge cannot make the decision. A will or estate plan tends to have an answer. If not, again, figure if you or someone else should be have POA.
  5. What About End of Life Wishes? Here we go, the tough questions. This may be something your loved ones are going to want to dodge, but this is also very important. In fact, estate plans are not complete without them.
  6. Don’t Forget to Ask About Insurance Policies. Another tough one, though not because it’s emotional, but rather time consuming. If they can’t recall which ones they have, then ask to look through their financial records. Some insurance policies to take note include health insurance, life insurance, home insurance, long-tern care insurance and disability insurance. 
  7. Ask About Tax Returns. Though chances are you won’t need them in case of a death, they’ll be necessary if your tracking their most recent financial numbers. 
  8. Talk about Miscellaneous Issues. This includes tracking all accounts they have, seeing if their organ donors, and if they have plans for any memorials.

This should give you a good guideline on how to approach “the talk”. It’s no guarantee, though I think it’ll make things easier.
If you want, we can even help have that conversation and help build an estate plan to make it less stressful for your loved ones and give the whole family more time to enjoy themselves. Call or email the office for more details.  

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