How to Talk to Parents and Retirees About Estate Planning

Many Long Island residents find it difficult to broach the subject of death with their parents or even their own spouses. However, ignoring the seriousness of estate planning will not make things easier in the long run. In fact, it could make matters difficult for survivors who must handle an estate after a loved one's death.

That is why discussing wills and trusts with loved ones is important. A solid estate plan is not only smart but also practical. It will help prevent family disputes that often arise after one's death.

There are several questions that should be asked of parents and spouses so that their loved ones can ensure that their decisions and wishes are properly carried out. Retirees should have valid and updated wills on record. They should also consider having some other documents in their estate plans, such as a trust. Adult children should also ask their parents about assets and the location of important documents.

In addition, information about financial plans for retirement and beneficiaries for accounts should also be discussed. In some cases, a retirement account may have an ex-spouse or deceased family member as the beneficiary, so it is important to review these accounts periodically and make any changes.

When drafting estate planning documents, it is important to create a list of retirement accounts. These may include pension plans, 401ks, IRAs and employer profit-sharing accounts. The names, contact information and account numbers of these accounts should be listed and kept in a safe place where at least one person has access to them.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Six vital questions to ask your parents," Jack Tatar, Dec. 31, 2012

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