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5 questions to help your parents with estate planning

When adult children find out about their family’s estate after the parents die, this limits the extent of what they know about their parents’ wishes. Having financial discussions up front gives more opportunity for planning. 

Asking the right questions of your aging parents can help keep all the important information out in the open and limit family disputes when the executor settles the estate. 

1. How do you want your estate settled?

Ask your parents questions about hidden personal property, charitable donations or other special wishes they may want in their estate documents. Let them share their thoughts and promise to help implement them. 

2. Where are you storing your legal documents?

You should know the location of and how to access your parents’ wills and other important paperwork. This is also a good opportunity to look if they do not have these documents drafted to begin with or if they need updated. 

3. Do you have a list of all your trusted contacts?

Make a record of points of contacts your parents trust. These list should include people such as their financial advisor, insurance agent, tax preparer, estate attorney, primary care doctor and specialty doctors. 

4. Who are the named beneficiaries on your accounts?

Make an inventory of the beneficiaries listed on your parents’ accounts. On individually owned assets like taxable investment accounts, houses or bank accounts, look for TOD or POD on the statements to find the beneficiary names. For accounts that do not already have beneficiaries, help your parents choose who to name. 

5. Do you have any accounts you want to close?

If your parents hold any assets at an institution they no longer want to, help them manage their finances by assisting with any stressful transfer paperwork. This also makes the jobs of the executors of their estates easier later on. 

Setting up a family meeting with your parents and talking about their end of life plans is difficult, but organization ahead of time can help minimize stress later on. 

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