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Top 7 End-of-Life Questions to Ask Aging Parents

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Death is an unfortunate fact of life. As people grow older, their parents do the same. Children often want to protect their parents as much as they can during the autumn years of their life. Frequently, all a child can do for their aging parent is make sure that they maintain their personal and financial affairs.

To that end, there are some really important documents that should be asked about, as well as other aspects of your parents' lives that you should try to find out, before they pass. Here are seven topics that you should consider asking your aging parents.

1. Can I have the Car Keys?

It may be a bit cats-and-the-cradle-ish, but at a certain point, you may want to consider wrestling the car keys out of your parent's hands. If medical problems, or simply old age, makes getting behind the wheel a risk for your parent, there could be serious legal consequences if they cause an accident, or worse, injure someone else.

2. Do You Have a Will or Life Insurance?

While it might be an awkward conversation, knowing if your parent has a will and/or life insurance is important. Just as important is knowing where these documents are, and how to access them. If it isn't awkward to ask, you may want to consider asking about who the beneficiaries of the will and life insurance are, who the executor will be, and how the assets and money will be distributed. This info should be updated or reviewed annually.

3. Do You Have an Advanced Directive?

Even if your parents are in good health, asking about whether they have an advanced directive is important. This document basically explains what they want to happen if they are unable to make medical decisions for themselves. This info should be updated annually.

4. Where's the Money?

While knowing about a will and testament is important, equally important is knowing where the money and assets are physically located. If there is a safe, ask for the combination to be included in the will, as well as information relating to where any money or property is located, such as which banks, safe deposit boxes, or even physical street addresses. Account numbers and access codes should be written down somewhere. This info should be updated annually.

5. What's Your Login Info for Social Media, Finance Sites, Email?

Seeing as how nearly everyone is online these days, it is a good idea to inquire about your parents various online accounts. Whether it is an e-mail, social media, or banking site, usually, if you don't have the login information, you may not be able to get the same level of access as your parent. Also, make sure to include not just the online accounts, but also any physical devices secured with a password. This info should be updated annually, at the very least.

6. What Do You Want on Your Headstone?

It can feel a bit morbid, but asking about what your parents wants to happen for their memorial service or funeral should not be neglected. They may want to be buried somewhere specific, or want to be cremated, or frozen. You won't know unless you ask. Also, you can ask what they actually want written on their headstone.

7. Who Are Your People?

Your parents may have been working with a lawyer or financial professional to help get their affairs sorted. If they have been, you should find out who these people are, and how to contact them. If they haven't been, maybe consider trying to find an attorney or financial planner to help with the planning.

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