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12 THINGS SENIORS SHOULD DO OR DISCUSS WITH THEIR CHILDREN IN THE EVENT OF DISABILITY OR DEATH (BUT NOT ON THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS)

Nobody wants to think (much less talk) about their death or disability or the death or disability of an immediate family member. However, communication reduces risk in achieving your desired goals if unfortunate events should occur. Assumptions often lead to errors or misunderstandings. The following should be topics of intergenerational discussions that should be addressed regarding estate, financial and health plan being in place for a parent’s later years:

  1. Parents should gather all important documents and information prior to the meeting: estate planning documents, signature cards on financial accounts, beneficiary designations, digital assets, insurance policies, passwords, etc.
  2. Children should think about the items of which they are uncertain and date and times for a meeting should be scheduled (in person, Zoom, etc.).
  3. Provide a copy of Will or Trust and discuss the goals you desired to achieve by the document (i.e., probate avoidance, creditor protection for you or your spouse or other beneficiaries, protection of assets if your spouse beneficiary remarries, protection of assets should you need long-term care, tax savings, protection of assets if a beneficiary is disabled, discuss any charitable goals, protection of your child from a bad marriage or protection of your assets the way you want if your child dies before their spouse and you are concerned about the son-in-law or daughter-in-law remarrying if they inherit from your child, protection of children if they are a spendthrift or have addiction issues, advise beneficiaries why there were specific bequests made, discuss if there are incentives for beneficiary (such as doing well in school or reaching financial goals) and confirming if documents are up to date (the older you get the more often documents should be reviewed).
  4. Provide a copy of your disability planning documents (financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Need, HIPAA). Do you want a personal care plan? Also keep records of medicines and allergies. In the event of disability, will children be caregivers? Are there adequate funds? Who is chosen to take care of financial and medical decisions in event of disability? Is there a possibility of disagreement of children regarding your care?
  5. Make a list of people to contact in event of death or disability (name, address, phone no., email address):
  6. Insurance agent;
  7. Financial planner;
  8. Accountant;
  9. Attorney;
  10. Minister, Rabbi, Priest and/or ritual director;
  11. Close friends.
  12. Discuss insurance policies: life insurance (beneficiary designation, type of life insurance policy, etc.), health insurance (Medicare and Medicare supplement, private insurance), home insurance (and possibly mortgage insurance), long-term care insurance and funeral or burial insurance.
  13. If inadequate income or assets for long-term care insurance, discuss the possibility of public benefits (i.e., wartime veteran or spouse of veteran or Medicaid).
  14. Discuss with your family what you would want for end-of-life situations. Funeral and burial plans should be discussed. Who should be in charge of your body after your death? Is there a potential for a dispute? 
  15. Discuss whom you want as your Social Security Representative Payee or VA fiduciary if you don’t have or want power of attorney.
  16. Get copy of any pre- or post-nuptial agreements (usually if multiple marriages)
  17. Most recent tax returns location (in case there is uncertainty as to assets or income after death). If you have a pension income, will it continue for spouse?
  18. Get a list of all financial (checking, savings, investment, money-market, retirement, etc.) and credit card accounts, including account number or credit card number and the amount of any debt.

If interested in learning more about this article or other estate planning, Medicaid and public benefits planning, probate, etc., attend one of our free upcoming virtual Estate Planning Essentials workshops by clicking here or calling 214-720-0102.  We make it simple to attend and it is without obligation

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