Asking the hard questions of aging parents
You have aging parents – but they are doing great right now. Your concern is that you have no idea how to handle things in the future – you don’t know what they want.
You have seen your friends confronted with these issues when a crises has occurred and it has created chaos and stress within the family.
If your parents are private people, how do you start this difficult conversation?
Pick a time when you are together with your parents, when everyone is relaxed and there are not a lot of distractions.
Explain that you don’t know what their plans are for their future and as their children, you want to know how they would want to have things handled – you want to get it right – to honor their wishes. You may actually find that your parents are relieved because they didn’t know how to get this conversation started. It is better to have this conversation now than at a time of crises.
- Ask about their goals for their short term and long term future. Have they considered their finances as they move forward? Are there any concerns?
- How would they like things handled for them in the future? What are their concerns? Why do they feel as they do?
- Do they have any estate planning documents? If so, where are they located? If not, discuss whether this might be a good time to investigate estate planning.
- Who are their professional advisors? Financial advisor, accountant, insurance agents, attorney, doctors.
- What are their wishes for future living arrangements? Do they have long term care insurance? Do they have sufficient financial security to stay in their own home?
- What are their funeral and/or burial wishes? Do they have a prearrangement with a funeral home? Do they have a prepaid funeral?
Stress the fact that you cannot help them and honor their wishes if you do not know what those goals, wishes and desires are.
Remember that this first conversation will be difficult for them and for you. It may be a time to only break the ice. There may be a need for future discussions.