How many of you know someone who isn’t speaking to a loved one after the death of a parent? The agony of going to funerals is sometimes less about the grief than the unspoken understanding that there will be family drama. Instead of coming together in love to honor the deceased, funerals are often ground zero for fractured relationships and power struggles. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Facing the mortality of a parent is never easy
But, having those difficult conversations now can go a long way in easing stress.
Here are 5 Questions Every GenXer Needs to Ask Their Parents Before It’s Too Late:
1. What are your parent’s final wishes?
As hard as it is to think about, it’s so important to ask your parents for advanced direction regarding end-of-life care. Family friction can be greatly reduced when there is clear and coherent instruction about final wishes. Do your parents want to be on life support? And if so, for how long? No child or spouse wants to make that decision.
2. Who do you they want to make their health care decisions when they cannot?
Depending on state law, this will need to be documented by a health care agent or health care power of attorney. It’s important to iron out these details as early as possible. The unfortunate truth is that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are fairly common diagnosis’s that can render your otherwise healthy parent incapable, in the eyes of the law, from making sound medical decisions.
3. Who will manage your parents finances if they are unable to manage them?
Assigning power of attorney is not to be taken lightly given the control one is ceding to another person. You and your parent(s) can work with an attorney to put some checks and balances in place to make for a more comfortable process.
4. Do your parents have a will?
If so, how will it be accessed upon death? Will’s aren’t just for rich people. Remind your parents that if they don’t have a will, the state will be in charge of distributing everything they’ve worked their entire lives for, and it may not be aligned with their wishes. Next time you’re home with you parents, schedule a visit with a lawyer to prepare, or at least discuss, a will.
5. Where are the documents for all insurance policies and financial accounts?
Have your parents reviewed their beneficiaries recently? Family situations change over time and we don’t often go back to see who we’ve designated. Imagine the turmoil if Dad never took his first wife off his IRA account. Avoid the drama, take time to go over important documents with your parents.
This is not an easy discussion to have but you’ll probably be surprised at your parent’s willingness to engage. They love you and don’t want you to suffer more than necessary when they pass. Also, they will likely want to save you the unnecessary estate related anguish they may have experienced with the loss of a parent. Print this sheet out, schedule some family time, and follow up! And remember, it’s never too soon to do it for yourself too.
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