Death. Sickness. Accidents. All unpleasant topics, but subjects that affect us all at one point or another. We can either turn a blind eye to them or we can equip ourselves and our families so that when tragedy strikes, we are as prepared as possible.
The reality is this: when your parents become incapacitated or die, you will be the one dealing with any financial issues left behind. As a result, even though it is uncomfortable talking to your parents about their finances, it is important you do so before any unexpected tragedy strikes and you are forced to deal with it unprepared.
How do you initiate this awkward conversation? Set aside a day for this serious talk and meet in a place where you won't be interrupted and where you will be as comfortable as possible. Maybe take your parents to lunch or to coffee, and start the conversation out by expressing your love and gratitude for them. Explain that the conversation you wish to have with them is to protect them and your family. Financial planning is in your parent's best interests, your best interests and your family's best interests!
Who Should I Take Along on a Meeting with My Parents about Financial Planning?
Before meeting, consider whether your parents would like to have their attorney or a financial planner come along. Maybe they would rather meet one-on-one with you or perhaps they would like it if you and your siblings had the talk with all at the same time. Before meeting with your parents, consider your family's dynamics and what would be the best course of action. Often, having an estate planning attorney accompany you into the meeting is a good idea; if it gets awkward or if you are unsure of what to discuss, he/she will know how to facilitate the discussion accordingly. He/she can also help steer the conversation throughout the evening and address any tricky situations or difficult questions you or your parents might have.
What Do I Need to Know Before One or Both of My Parents Passes Away?
To begin with, tell them that not only do you need to know where to find the will (in the event that tragedy strikes), you need to be informed about whether or not they have executed powers of attorney and whether or not they have set up an advanced health care directive and trust. You should also state that you wish to know if they have life insurance or other assets and where the policy is located. Ask them too if they keep a list of their debts or bank and pay bills online (if the latter, you will need all of their log-in information). Advise parents that a revocable living trust is a good idea, because it allows assets to pass outside of probate and after a loved one's death, you will need immediate cash to pay for the expenses related to their passing.
What Financial Planning Pitfalls Should My Parents Avoid?
Inform your parents that it is usually not a good idea to store your important documents in a bank safe deposit box as you would have to obtain a court order to access them then. A better idea is to store one's important papers in a strongbox or safe at home instead. If your parents wish to still use a bank safe deposit box, it is a good idea for them to have one or more of their children be a signer.
Why Contact The Law Offices of Steven M. Adler, PLLC?
If you would like to have a talk about estate planning for your family, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $500 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I've made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge! Call today and mention this article to get started on protecting yours and your loved ones!