Knowing the desires of your parents will help your family as your parents get older.
Your parents are getting older.
Perhaps you have not noticed, as time tends to move along.
Suddenly, you realize that your folks are far older than you remember.
They may be more frail and require more assistance with everyday living.
What is the best way to help them?
According to a recent Next Avenue article titled “How to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Aging Parents,” you should talk with your parents about what they want rather than make assumptions.
First you should talk about their finances.
Do they have enough to pay the bills?
How long will they be able to keep up their standard of living?
Do they have an estate plan? Maybe they have a revocable living trust, a last will and testament, and a general durable power of attorney?
If yes, are the appoint trustees, personal representatives, and agents aware that they have been appoint and their future responsibilities?
The next topic to discuss is health.
Do your parents have any medical issues or health concerns?
What prescriptions do they currently take and when?
Do they have a system in place for ensuring they take their meds when they required?
Do you they have an advance health care directive?
You should also talk about how they want their lives to look like as they get older.
Do they want to live at home as long as possible?
Would they prefer to live in a continuing care facility?
How will help be provided when they can no longer care for themselves?
This next conversation is one of the hardest.
You need to talk about their wishes when death is near.
What should happen if they have dementia or a terminal illness?
What kind of care would they like to receive?
Do they have a health care treatment directive as part of their advance health care directive (e.g., in our practice the "advance health care directive" consists of a "health care treatment directive," "durable power of attorney for health care matters," and an "anatomical gift declaration").
What life sustaining or saving measures would they like to receive?
Finally, you should talk about their legacy.
How do they want to be remembered?
Are their family photos, recipes, heirlooms, jewelry, or videos to pass along?
Are their stories to be shared?
Take time to listen.
Do not expect to get all of these answers at once.
These conversations are a process.
Your parents may need to think on answers.
They may prefer to talk to you and any siblings individually rather than together.
No matter how the conversations happen, make note of what is discussed.
You can compare these notes with your siblings or other family members.
If their wishes are not reflected in their current estate plan, you should encourage them to revise their estate plan as soon as possible.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney as you have these conversation to ensure that the wishes of your parents are honored.
Reference: Next Avenue (September 21, 2018) “How to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Aging Parents”