In last week’s post, I addressed why it is important to talk to your parents about planning for their death as well as some tips for how to begin this challenging conversation with them. Today I’ll share the “what” and “when” of this important conversation:
What should be covered?
There are a number of documents you’ll want to ask your parents about. Start by asking them if they have a power of attorney for finances which names an individual to make money decisions for them when they become unable to make these decisions themselves. You’ll also want to ask if they have similar documents for health care, including an advanced care directive, health care proxy, or power of attorney for health care. Also see if they have a living will to outline their wishes for end-of-life care.
Next, learn if they have an up-to-date estate plan which may include a will or a living trust which details how their assets are to be distributed. See if they have left instructions in this document for their house, vehicle, stocks, money in all accounts, collectibles, and sentimental items. If your parents don’t have an estate plan, state law would determine who gets which assets and their property may not be distributed as they would hope.
If you or your parents do not yet have an estate plan in place, it’s best to consult an estate planning attorney. However, if you want to begin getting organized first, AARP has caregiving guides with resources and checklists. There are also a number of death-planning apps, including Lantern, Cake, Empathy, or Everplans.
When do I bring this up?
The time to bring up this conversation is now, or as soon as you are able. We never know how long we have left.
Cullen also suggests that you “go into it as a lifelong conversation” since your parents lives will continue to change and their estate planning and end-of-life documents should change with them.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.