As difficult as it is to start a conversation about end of life, getting affairs in order before death does not have to be a monumental task.
It is not something that you sit down one weekend and do. While parents are still in control of their mental faculties, adult children should approach them, treading carefully, of course. This type of discussion could ideally come from the parents, but if that does not happen, adult children should bring it up.
Maybe children could approach their parents with, “Mom (or Dad), do you have the time to sit with us to get your affairs in order so that we can be sure to adhere to your wishes when the time comes?” This is not an easy conversation to have, and parents and children both procrastinate. Develop a pre death checklist and a “getting affairs in order worksheet” with parents. Although pre death checklist sounds macabre, explain why and how each item will lessen the stress on both of you later. This important discussion should occur as soon as possible rather than at a time when parents have possibly become infirm.
A will or a trust will help parents get their affairs in order. Not only does it give them a sense of peace, but it clarifies their desires so that there can be no question later. Their last wishes should be spelled out so that those in charge will have a blueprint by which they can perform their duties.
Below are some areas to note about how to put a senior loved one’s affair in order:
What assets and liabilities do the parents have and where is the supporting documentation?
Have they appointed someone to have durable power of attorney to manage their affairs when they are incapable of doing so?
Have they appointed a family member or close friend to make decisions regarding their health if they are incapacitated?
Have they developed a plan for a funeral or other end- of- life ceremony, if desired? They can do that by deciding on a funeral, memorial service, cremation and scattering of ashes in a place of their choice, or cremation with burial. Whatever they choose, the family should honor their wishes.
Do they have long-term-care insurance? If so, understand the terms and coverage.
Do they want life prolonging steps to be taken? If they do not, have they signed a Do Not Resuscitate order? An advance directive can be included in the trust or living will.
Getting Affairs in Order – Worksheet
A type of “getting affairs in order worksheet” is an excellent idea to help organize the various steps that should be taken. Having a guide makes it easier to split up the different tasks among family members or to keep a single member on task.
Procuring legal documents for elderly parents may lighten the burden for those who will be responsible. Some of the legal documents for elderly parents consist of pulling together insurance policies, which may include health, home, life, car, and any types of catastrophic insurances that may be in force. Other important papers are tax returns and varied bank accounts, such as long and short term savings, checking, money market, CDs, and debit cards. A list of credit cards with account numbers, expiration dates and passwords helps to facilitate closing accounts and the ability to withdraw funds from those accounts.
Aging parents should make certain that documents re