Know about parents’ affairs
Dear Savvy Senior,
My pastor recently suggested that I get informed on my elderly parents’ financial situation and end-of-life plans so I can be better prepared when something happens to them. What’s the best way to handle this and what all do I need to find out?
Most adult children don’t know much about their parents’ financial situation or end-of-life plans, but they need to. Getting up to speed on your elderly parent’s finances, insurance policies, long-term care plans, and other information is important because some day you might have to help them handle their financial affairs or care, or execute their estate plan after they die. Without this information, your job becomes much more difficult.
Have the Talk
If you’re uncomfortable starting up a conversation like this with your parents, see TheConversationProject.org for guidance. It’s also a good idea to get your siblings or other family members involved. This can help you head off possible hard feelings, plus, with others involved, your parents will know everyone is concerned.
When you meet with your parents, you’ll need to sit down and create several lists of important information, find out where they keep key documents and how they want certain things handled when they die or if they become incapacitated. Here’s a checklist of areas you need to focus on.
•Contacts: Make a list of names and phone numbers of close friends, clergy, their doctors, lawyer, accountant, broker, tax preparer, insurance agent, etc.
•Personal documents: Find out where they keep their Social Security card, marriage license, military discharge papers, etc.
•Secured places: Make a list of places they keep under lock and key or protected by password, such as online accounts, safe deposit boxes, safe combination, security alarms, etc.
•Service providers: Make a list of the companies or people who provide them regular services like utility companies, lawn service, etc.
•Medical information: Make a copy of their medical history (any drug allergies, past surgeries, etc.) and a list of medications they take.
•Pets: If they have a pet, what are their instructions for the animal’s care?
•End of life: What are their wishes for organ or body donation, and their funeral instructions? If they’ve made pre-arrangements with a funeral home get a copy of the agreement.
•Will: Do they have an updated will or trust, and where is it located?
•Power of attorney: Do they have a power of attorney document that names someone to handle their financial matters if they become incapacitated?
•Advance directives: Do they have a living will and a medical power of attorney that spells out their wishes regarding their end-of-life medical treatment?
•Income and debt: Make a list of their income sources such as pensions, Social Security, IRAs, 401Ks, investments, etc. And do the same for any debt (mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, etc.) they may have.
•Financial accounts: Make a list of the banks and brokerage accounts they use (checking, savings, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc.) and their contact information.
•Company benefits: Make a list of any retirement plans, pensions or benefits from their former employer including the contact information of the benefits administrator.
•Insurance: Make a list of the insurance policies they have (life, long-term care, home, auto, Medicare, etc.) including the policy numbers.
•Property: Make a list of the real estate, vehicles or other properties they own, and where they keep the deeds and titles.
•Credit cards: Make a list of all their credit and charge cards, including the card numbers and contact information.
•Taxes: Find out where they keep copies of past year’s tax returns.
For more information, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 and ask them to mail you a free copy of their publication “Let’s Talk: Starting the Conversation about Health, Legal, Financial and End-of-Life Issues,” or you can read online at eldercare.gov.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
A creepy Halloween party appetizer (October 19, 2016)
Applying for Social Security (October 19, 2016)
Chili Cook-off to benefit Wilson County youth (October 19, 2016)
DRT joins Heritage Music Festival (October 19, 2016)
DRT to meet Oct. 24 in Kerrville (October 19, 2016)
Enjoy Harvest Festival in Marion (October 19, 2016)
Enter Pecan Bake Show (October 19, 2016)
Little Golden Books (October 19, 2016)
Make plans for Halloween fun and fall fests (October 19, 2016)
Meeting the needs of the community: St. Vincent de Paul (October 19, 2016)
R&B legend opens Carver season Oct. 29 (October 19, 2016)
Readers share their spooky tales, part two (October 19, 2016)
Road Runners plan Oct. 22 group run (October 19, 2016)
See country legends Oct. 22 (October 19, 2016)
Try your hand at square dancing (October 19, 2016)
Turn yard waste into gardener’s gold (October 19, 2016)
Baptist church to ring in 100 years (October 12, 2016)
Church plans Junk and Treasure Sale (October 12, 2016)
Comal Country Music Show is Oct. 18 (October 12, 2016)
Davy Crockett (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy fried chicken in Poth Oct. 23 (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy this flashy winter resident (October 12, 2016)
Join in the 2016 Rosary Crusade (October 12, 2016)
National Charity League plans celebration (October 12, 2016)
New program increases student knowledge of E-cigarette dangers (October 12, 2016)
Play bunco in La Vernia Oct. 22 (October 12, 2016)
Pondering a poignant letter from the past (October 12, 2016)
Save the date for Oct. 22 March for Life (October 12, 2016)
Should you redeem old savings bonds? (October 12, 2016)
Show Barn Cook-off approaching (October 12, 2016)
Sutherland Springs Old Town Day (October 12, 2016)
The business of aging grows more complex (October 12, 2016)
Try your luck at China Grove Lions Club Casino Night (October 12, 2016)
Atascosa County Craft Show seeks vendors (October 5, 2016)
Beautify your landscape with cacti (October 5, 2016)
Experience Oktoberfest in San Antonio (October 5, 2016)
Gilded peanuts and golden memories — recalling past Floresville Peanut Festivals (October 5, 2016)
Japan Fest set for Oct. 16 (October 5, 2016)
Meal service delivery options for seniors who don’t cook (October 5, 2016)
Oktoberfest comes to Floresville Oct. 15 (October 5, 2016)
Past Pirate champions will never be forgotten (October 5, 2016)
Readers share their ‘spooky’ tales (October 5, 2016)
Sacred Springs PowWow (October 5, 2016)
Shorter teapot (October 5, 2016)
Sinatra tribute comes to Kerrville (October 5, 2016)
Stockdale librarian updates Blue Bonnet Club members (October 5, 2016)
Sunnyside 4-H Bake Sale (October 5, 2016)
Time for turkey in Cestohowa (October 5, 2016)