A Guide for Adult Children to Help Their Parents Prepare for the Future

Do you know what your parents’ plans are for their retirement, medical care and end-of-life decisions? Studies show that Millennials are the most confident in their parents’ preparations for the future, even more than those parents are in themselves. Such confidence on the part of the children might come from simply not talking about their family’s future preparedness. If you an adult child operating on assumptions regarding the plans of your parents, here is a guide to learning about that.

Cultural Mores Often Prevent Parents from Opening Up to Their Children

The discussion of such plans should, but rarely do, involve the entire family. If you don’t know about your parents’ financial plans, medical care and end-of-life choices, or if your parents haven’t made any plans, we can help you get the conversation started. At the Northeast Connecticut Law Center, we want to give children confidence in the end-of life care of the parents and the settling of the family estate. We can help you and your parents prepare for the future and create legal documents so that all goes the way they want it to when the worst happens. When there is no preparation, children are often surprised about how the family estate is handled in probate. When there is no will, or the will is not valid, the probate court administers the family estate according to the laws of the state. This outcome may not honor the wishes of the family when its intentions are unknown.

We Can Help You Get the Conversation Started

There are many choices to be made about how to proceed. when the family wealth is modest, the parents may need only a will and powers of attorney for medical care, real estate and financial dealings. Or, the family may need an estate plan with asset protection to ensure that inheritances are not eroded by estate taxes or other complications. Our attorneys handle a wide range of retirement, life care and end-of-life arrangements. And, we can help you. Connect with us by clicking here Contact Us. Fill out the form on our website and send it in. Or just call us at 860.928.2429.

Are You More Confident in Your Parents’ Future Plans Than They Are?

Millennials often define themselves by their ability to survive tough financial circumstances. They also tend to assume their parents are better off than they are. An online survey conducted by KRC Research and reported by TIAA said that 72% of millennials described their parents’ financial outlook as good to excellent. However, when that same survey asked Gen Xers and Boomers – the people most likely to represent Millennials’ parents – about their own financial confidence, only 57% of Gen Xers and 58% of boomers felt the same way.

This difference in opinion may stem from a cultural tendency of the parents to not talk about financial and health circumstances. Many adult children of aging parents have little to no information about their parents’ health, finances, or insurance situation. That can create problems when parents become ill, are in an accident, or begin to need healthcare assistance. Before you find yourself scrambling for insurance policy information, a will, powers of attorney and trust documents, take the time to have a frank conversation and learn about your parents’ financial plans and end-of-life desires.

Is There Money for Retirement?

Adult children often find themselves making their own financial decisions based on the needs of their parents. That same KRC Research study indicated that 44% of adult children avoided taking on debt and 38% limited everyday spending based on concerns that they may have to help pay for their parents’ needs.

Those concerns are well-founded. The costs for end-of-life healthcare continue to rise, with assisted living often exceeding $50,000 per year and nursing homes clocking in around $90,000 per year. If your parents’ financial plans don’t account for their own care, their adult children may end up paying those bills.

Start the Conversation by Asking for Advice

Talking about money with your parents can be uncomfortable. You don’t want to put your parents on the spot at a family gathering by asking how much is in their retirement fund. Instead, try to frame your questions in terms of asking for advice. Say you are considering investing for your own retirement. Then ask your parents about their own plans. This conversation may not be a one and done and might need to be accomplished over time. Try to find out about:

  • The types of investments they hold such as 401k, 403b, IRA, health savings accounts;
  • The company(ies) that hold their investment accounts,
  • Life insurance and long-term care policies,
  • The beneficiaries named on them,
  • The approximate total amount they have invested, and
  • The names of their financial analyst and tax accountant.

Have Your Parents Made End of Life Choices?

If talking about finances is hard, discussing your parents’ plans regarding illness and death may be even harder. Even so, when something happens to a parent, the medical staff will look to the adult children for guidance about end-of-life care. You need to know if your parents have designated a patient advocate or signed a Medical Power of Attorney to handle these questions for them. Parents may have already created medical directives to provide guidance about what they want and don’t want to happen while they are in the hospital.

A good way to raise these issues with your parents is to talk about what happened to someone else. By talking about your friend whose parent was in the hospital, you can direct the conversation toward your parents’ own end of life choices, so you know what preparations have been made, or not, and what to expect. Try to find out:

  • If they have completed a Medical Power of Attorney or designated a patient advocate,
  • Who is named as the patient advocate,
  • Whether they have prepared medical directives and where those documents are located, and
  • Whether they favor aggressive treatment or simpler end-of-life care.

Is There a Will, Trust or Estate Plan in Place?

When parents pass away without a will or an estate plan in place, it can leave their adult children scrambling to put together the pieces of their financial lives and satisfy the probate court’s demands. It isn’t enough for a will, trust or estate plan to exist. The personal representative, trustee, or executor identified in these legal documents needs to know about it. Many parents with wills, trusts or estate plans forget this crucial step. The adult children should do the detective work now to be prepared for when a parent passes away. When death occurs, there are many emotions and sometimes even trauma among the children. It is a gift to all concerned to handle the details of who is in charge and what legal documents exist before need.

This can be delicate. Often, when an adult child asks about the parents’ will, trust or estate plan, it can seem like he or she is eager for them to die, or worse, that the child is trying to put hands on an inheritance. Remember that you do not actually need to know how much, if anything, you will receive ahead of time. Instead, try to find out:

  • If a will, trust or estate plan exists,
  • Who is named as the executor, personal representative, or trustee,
  • Where the will, trust and estate plan documents are stored,
  • Who, if anyone, helped them put those legal documents together,
  • When was the last time these documents were reviewed and updated,
  • And finally, is there a system your parents are using to identify physical gifts.

Let Us Help You Review Your Parents’ Financial Plans, Medical and Financial Directives, and End-of-Life Legal Documents

All too often, when adult children get their parents to open up about their financial, medical and end-of-life documents, the answer may be that their parents haven’t given it much thought. If you find this to be true, you know there is a job ahead. Our estate planning attorneys at the Northeast Connecticut Law Center can help. We will be happy to meet with you and your parents to review their situation and advise about the best course to take. Then, we will create the necessary legal documents according to their wishes. Break the cycle of secrecy in your family and help it survive and prosper into the future. To get started, have the talk with your parents and then connect with us. Or, if the talk is too difficult, but you still want to do it, connect with us by clicking here: Contact Us. Fill out the form on our website and send it in. Or just call us at 860.928.2429.

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