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Have you discussed your parents' wishes with them?

Thinking about the day when your parents will pass away is not pleasant. There are a few things that you should discuss with them before that day comes. Finding out what their wishes are can ensure you are respecting them in their final days and the period after they die.

On top of making sure that you know what your parents want, you need to find out information that will make things easier for you in the days after their death. These questions should give you a good start on the conversation:

What are your wishes for medical care?

Finding out what kinds of medical care your parents want in their final days can help you or the person who holds health care powers of attorney to make decisions. You need as much information as possible. Find out if they want to be resuscitated, if they want a ventilator, if they will accept nutritional support and similar points. If your parents don't want to be resuscitated, they need to sign a "do not resuscitate" document to keep on file with health care facilities and at home.

What plans do you have for your final wishes?

You need to find out if your parents want to be cremated or have a traditional burial. Ask them if they have any plans for the funeral service or memorial service. Determine if they have plans or funeral policies with a specific funeral home. You should also find out if there are burial plots and where the documentation for these is located.

Where do you keep your financial records and sensitive information?

Ideally, your parents will compile a list of where they have financial accounts. You will need account numbers and the location of each account. If there is online access to the accounts, you need the username and password. You also need to know about life insurance policies, including what company they are with, where the policy is located, the amount of coverage and the named beneficiary. Find out where your parents put this information so you know where to look when they pass away. This is much easier than trying to track down accounts later. Additionally, this information shouldn't be located in the will since the reading of the will can take considerable time after the death.

What's in your estate plan?

Knowing the basics of what is in the estate plan can help you prepare for handling the estate. This also gives you time to ask questions if there is anything about their wishes that you don't understand. One thing to remember is to ask them where the will is located. Ideally, it won't be in a safe deposit box because you might have difficulty accessing this when they pass away.

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