How to talk to your parents about estate planning

July 28, 2016

The talk may be a difficult one but it should provide everyone around the table with peace of mind.

Have your parents had “the talk” with you yet? No, not that talk. The one about estate planning. It’s something your parents might not want to discuss, so it could be up to you to initiate the conversation, tactfully and respectfully. Try to focus on two things: health and finances.

Health care decisions

Health care planning is an important, though difficult, discussion to have. Here are some questions to ask: Do your parents know who they want to make health care decisions for them if they become so ill that they can no longer take care of themselves? Do they have a living will in place that provides instructions for their medical care? Or have they designated a power of attorney for health care decisions?

If your parents haven’t made these types of arrangements yet, now’s the time to help them get started.

Get it in writing

You’ll want to ask your parents where they keep their will, living will and other legal documents. You should make copies for yourself and keep them in a safe place.

Have them share contact information for their lawyer, executor and powers of attorney in case you need to contact them.

Current and future finances

Next, get a complete picture of your parents’ current financial situation, as well as what you might need to prepare for in the future.

Ask them about their current income, including salary, workplace pension benefits, government benefits (like Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security), or income from a RRIF, annuity or other investments. You’ll also want to get an idea of their annual expenses. Knowing how to get in touch with their bank, investment manager or mortgage broker is important in case something happens.

Together, try to figure out whether your parents’ income will change when they retire or if one of them passes away, and how they’ll continue to meet their expenses if so. Are there steps you can help them with now to better prepare them for the future? Keep in mind that their expenses could change as they age. For example, health care and personal care costs could increase. Will their income still be enough? Do they have insurance to help cover these expenses?

Also ask your parents about their assets, including their home, life insurance and investments. Does their will ensure these assets end up where they want them to? Will their power of attorney make financial decisions for them if they’re no longer able to?

The talk may be a difficult one but it should provide everyone around the table with peace of mind.

To learn more, read Estate planning series - The basics and visit AGF.com.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

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