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10 Important Questions to Ask Your Parents

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As your parents grow older, it becomes even more vital for them to have their estate plans in order. Although it may be uncomfortable to initiate the topic, it's a good idea to sit down and talk with them about their end-of-life wishes, and to help them organize and record those wishes.

These tips will help you have a smooth discussion:
  • Ease into the conversation by talking about your own experiences with estate planning.
  • Begin with basic, easy-to-answer questions before moving on to more sensitive issues.
  • Remain nonjudgmental.
  • Don't be afraid to laugh and reminisce.
  • Take a break. Plan more than one session to avoid an exhausting, stressful discussion.
Find Out What You Need to Know
Use these 10 questions as a guide to navigate through this sticky subject.

1. Do you have an up-to-date will? By starting with this question, you can then let them know you would like to talk about plans they have made for the future.

2. Is there anything I can do to help get your other important documents in order? This question provides an opening to talk about banking and credit card information, trust documents, insurance policies, and other important records.

3. Have you told someone where these documents are located? Assure them that they don't have to tell you what is in those documents but that it's a good idea to make sure someone, like an attorney or friend, knows where they are and how to access them.

Request our free guide on locating important documents.

4. Have you had a chance to take an inventory of your major items of property, including furniture, jewelry, art and other collectibles? If the answer is no, suggest they create an inventory list on the computer or make a videotape inventory.

5. Have you thought about the advantages of making a charitable gift through your estate? It allows you to keep your assets during your life, in case you need them, while you help nonprofit organizations such as Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation, Inc. after your lifetime.

6. Would you like to share the names of your key advisors, attorneys, financial consultants, accountants and insurance specialists? Find out if their advisors have counseled them about the best ways to protect their assets. Offer to help them find trusted advisors if they do not have any.

7. Would you like to share information about your final wishes or funeral arrangements? Being aware of this information now will make the time when they pass away less stressful.

8. Have you named a trusted person to make health and financial decisions for you if you are no longer able to make those decisions yourself? If you are the person they'd like to make decisions on their behalf, ask for details on how they would like those decisions carried out.

9. What are your feelings on long-term care? Find out if they are interested and, if so, what type they have in mind (e.g., home care, senior housing, etc.).

10. Is there anything else you'd like to discuss? This is always a good wrap-up question. It gives your parents the opportunity to talk about other matters or concerns.

These questions will not only ensure that your parents have their estate plans in order, but they should also encourage you to put your own plans in place.

To get started, request our helpful guide on gathering the information you need to begin your plans.

If you have included Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation, Inc. in your estate plans, please let us know so we can properly thank you. Contact Paula S. Fortunas at 850-431-5752 or

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The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes apply to federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.