4 Thought Provoking Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents
Raising important estate planning issues with an aging parent can be uncomfortable. Emergency health care plans and death are not exactly fun conversation topics nor are financial inheritance concerns. When approached with care, however, have you considered that elder parents may be far more receptive to discussing these vital issues?
Rather than confront them directly and risk shutting down communication, it can often be more effective for adult children to introduce a series of light conversation starters and build trust over time. Consider seizing organic openings, like when an elder parent volunteers a reference to his or her own mortality, or perhaps after a funeral for a family member or friend. Asking thought-provoking questions can also be helpful. Let us address four such potential questions.
- How do you envision your memorial service? People of advanced age may be acutely aware that life does not go on forever. They likely have experience with loved ones passing away and may have already thought about how they would like to be remembered. Once the subject is raised, it can be only natural to transition the conversation to estate planning.
- When and where would you consider moving? Aging adults may eventually require assistance with daily tasks, such as keeping up with necessary medications, personal hygiene, or home-related responsibilities. When this occurs, ask if they would prefer in-home care or moving to an assisted-living facility.
- Do you have a power of attorney or advance directive? If something were to happen to your aging parent, a power of attorney document could allow a trusted person to make legally binding decisions on his or her behalf. Introducing this concept or updating an existing power of attorney might come as a welcome relief. Aging parents could also create instructions through an advance directive for how others should handle their health care if they are incapacitated or facing an end-of-life situation.
- Who is on your team? Estate planning often involves health care and financial considerations that can not only impact aging parents during their lifetimes, but also their children and grandchildren after they pass. Working with qualified legal and financial professionals can help ensure an aging parent’s wishes are followed. It may be helpful to ask an elder parent about their representation.
Another way to open an estate dialogue may be to pose these questions from your own perspective and ask for an aging parent’s advice about your estate issues. If all else fails, consider approaching an independent third party for guidance. Our office can also help navigate these related concerns. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.