Talking about death is uncomfortable. There is no way around that feeling, but talking with our parents about their estate plan, especially during these uncertain times, is something that we have to do. Otherwise, if the do not estate plan, it is those of us left behind that will have to deal with the fallout.
Is it really that important?
Indeed, yes. Think about what one would do if one or both parents died. The kids would essentially be responsible for figuring out what to do, and everyone will want a piece. This is true of the tax man (both state and federal), along with the court system (probate), family members (even ones that have not been “family” for years) and debt collectors. Without an estate plan, the kids left behind will have to navigate this confusing, complex and expensive post-death probate process.
How to sell estate planning to parents
For our parents, estate planning offers peace of mind for life’s inevitabilities, but it also ensures that they do not leave their kids with a stressful mess. Plus, an estate plan also includes documents that help the parents out during a medical or incapacitation emergency. As such, it is not just about those left behind, it is also about one’s parents and making sure they are taken care of, should something happen.
Some questions to ask now
For their life-centered estate planning, ask them who they want as a caregiver or in charge of their finances, should they be unable to make decisions. Ask about medical preferences, like their primary care doctor, who they want to make medical decisions, insurance, how to pay medical bills, etc. This is a good way to get an idea of one’s parents’ life, medical and long-term care insurance, along with accounts that can be used to pay their bills. This information can also be used for post-life planning.
Questions for after death
What do they want to happen to their property? Do they want it to become family assets and treasures, or sell items for family members to split or add to the estate to be split? Ask about who they want to receive what and how much should go to whom. Are there documents that are important, and where are they? Are their any digital assets that need to be handled? These are all things that our Morristown, New Jersey, parents will care about now and will entice them into estate planning.