End of Life Planning

3 ways to talk to your parents about their life plans.

Today, our parents and elders are learning to embrace their life plans with dignity and independence as they strive to stay active and involved as they age. Parents at this life stage create opportunities for conversation about what they want their future to look like. Asking your parents about their life plans can help lead to further conversation about how they want to age and your role in their future.

While parents can be reluctant to share their information or open up about their plans, there are a few things you can try to spark the conversation.

Talk about your own experience.

It may help to share your own personal experience about how you’ve prepared for your future. Provide examples of how you’ve readied your financial affairs, drafted a will, or documented your information should your loved ones ever need it. You can then ask your parents how they’ve prepared for their future.

Share a friend or colleague’s experience.

Similarly, you can share a friend or colleague’s experience who either did or didn’t have access to their parents’ information when they needed it most. This could range from the importance of having a will to having specific healthcare plans in place. Show your parents how significant it can be for you to have their information on-hand. This will also invite conversation about what your parents may or may not have in place.

Secure documentation.

If your parents are reluctant to loop you in on their plans and information, suggest they write it out and share where they’ve secured the document in their home. You could also suggest they use an online, encrypted database like Helen’s Plan or that they meet with a lawyer or attorney. These ideas may help create the distance your parents are wanting to comfortably document their life plans and information.

Gather as many details as you can.

If your parents are open to sharing, work to gather as many details as you can. Secure things like bank accounts, insurance, healthcare plans, real estate, legal documents, and logins. Include any information you or their lawyer, attorney, or estate planner may need.

In a society that once viewed retirement as leaving the workforce to rock on a porch swing, our parents and elders are doing anything but. Working to openly discuss and collect details of your parents’ life plans will allow you both to celebrate and find comfort as they age.

End of Life Planning

When to get a written will and what you need to write one .

A written will ensures that your assets and property will be distributed as you wish. When deciding if you need a will, it’s best to consider where you’re at in your life and how many assets you’ve accumulated.

If you’re married, it’s important to document whether all your assets will go to your spouse. Similarly, if you’re a parent, deciding who will take guardianship over your minor children. The same goes for property owners, pet owners, and anyone with assets that would need distributing after they’ve passed. If you haven’t yet built up assets or are just starting out financially, it’s likely you won’t need a will just yet.

Having an estate plan in place allows your family members time to grieve and lower the chances of disputes. It’s important that you document these decisions properly. Handwritten wills bring added risk to the validity and reliability of the document and can even be questioned in court.

An online will-writing program may seem like a good middle ground between hiring out and writing your own, but it’s always recommended to consult with an attorney or estate planner. While do-it-yourself sites are more convenient and less spendy, they carry little assurance on the legal validity or accountability of your document.

Before writing your will, your lawyer or attorney will need a list of all your assets and the person or organization that will inherit each, along with any real estate property or guardianship. You’ll also have the option to name an executor in your will or an individual or organization that will ensure the proper distribution of your assets and property.

Creating a will costs time and money, but dying without a will in place risks leaving the distribution of your assets up to your local courts or state laws to decide on your behalf. This may not only go against your wishes but potentially generate legal expenses and conflict within your family. Having one in place will remove added stress for your loved ones and allow them the time they need to grieve and heal.