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Some find it difficult to discuss any arrangements they have made regarding a will and the dispersal of assets. It can leave their spouses or children unprepared for handling the details of arranging the funeral, continuing to pay bills that come in and manage other important details.  Or it can even lead them to dig through drawers, closets and boxes of paperwork to find a will, estate plan and funeral arrangements.

These burdens can further complicate the children’s lives, which can involve a demanding job and parenting obligations. They do all this while going through their grieving process.

Three questions to ask

Children with elderly parents may not want to think about the death of a parent, but they can save themselves a lot of stress and frustration by preparing ahead of time. If the parent seems resistant to sharing the details, most will acknowledge the necessity of having this information at hand when the time comes. The three crucial questions are:

  1. Where are the documents? It saves a lot of time if families know where to look and what they are looking for. Key details are information on bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and a list of major assets.
  2. Who is the executor? They may have put down a child without really thinking about it. However, the executor’s job involves a lot of paperwork, deadlines for filing, and possibly the skills to mediate if there are disputes. The child may want to request that a neutral third party handle this job.
  3. What happens if one or both parents are alive but not able to take care of themselves? It is common for an elderly parent to become incapacitated by a temporary illness or suffer from a debilitating disease. It is a good idea to ask them to have arrangements for a health care proxy and power of attorney.

Putting this off means more significant problems later

A well-organized estate plan can be a parting gift from decedents to loved ones. Parents who draft a will and make other arrangements reduce the stress upon surviving family during their grief. It can also enable them to make educated decisions about their finances and long-term plans. Many find it useful to work with an experienced attorney who can handle the details of probate and closing the estate. They can also be a neutral presence and protect the interests of the family members if there are legal disputes.