Helping Your Parents Get Their Affairs in Order
Gather and discuss financial information: Copies of deeds to real estate, statements of financial assets, life insurance policies, pensions, bank accounts, retirement accounts, safe deposit box, vehicles, funeral and burial information, savings bonds, etc. Find out how assets are owned. Generally, if there’s a survivor, Joint tenancy avoids probate as do properly completed beneficiary designations. Life insurance, CDs, retirement accounts, and other assets may have beneficiary designations. Make sure those are current and do not name ex-spouses or deceased persons. Update and change beneficiary designations as needed.
Don’t forget digital assets and passwords to important online information, investment and bank accounts, programs, social media, and websites.
Gather estate planning documents such as:
Powers of attorney for Property
Powers of attorney for Healthcare
Business buyout agreements;
Discuss who is the named trustee, executor, agent with power of attorney, etc. If documents are 5 years or older, or no longer reflect current wishes, these documents should be updated by an estate planning attorney.
Schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney and possibly an elder law attorney.
Gather legal information: social security numbers, medicare cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, vaccination cards, etc.
DEBTS, CREDITORS AND EXPENSES.
Gather information about memberships, creditors, debts, loans, mortgages, insurance, expenses, etc. If your parents passed away, what bills would need to be paid?
LONG TERM CARE.
Discuss desires and preferences for medical housing, assisted living, memory care, or in-home caregivers for any terminal illness situation. Gather any long term care insurance policy information.
Discuss end of life wishes with them. What is important to them? Consider whether they have or want a living will. Consider the website: 5 wishes.
Obtain the accountant’s name and contact information, and obtain a copy of the last income tax return.
Discuss last wishes regarding:
Burial or Cremation;
Any organ or anatomical gifts or donations
We recommend that parents discuss these critical issues with all their children together, especially in a blended family. This avoid surprises and potentially prevent arguments after parents are disabled or deceased about what was said in separate conversations, such as, “Dad told me he did not want to be cremated.” Or, “Mom put me in charge of the safe deposit box.” Or, “They told me I didn’t have to pay back my loan they gave me.”
The estate planning and elder law Attorney
Financial Planner or Investment Advisor
Credit Card Companies
Health Care Agents (health, dental, vision, medical, etc.)
Asset Holders and financial institutions
Social Security Administration
Professional Associations, Religious Associations, Clubs, Schools, Unions, Fraternal Groups
Documents to Locate and Have Available:
Powers of attorney for property and healthcare
Last Will and Testament
Any Living Trust or Testamentary Trust
Safety Deposit Box Keys
Legal Name Change Decrees
Income Tax Records
Real Estate Deeds
Business Interest or Ownership Documentation
Documentation of Assets
Safety Deposit Box(es)
Vacation Home(s) and/or Land
Real Estate for investment purposes
Gas or Oil Leases
Money Market Accounts
Certificates of Deposit
Credit Union Accounts
Stock Certificates or Book Shares
Profit Sharing Accounts
Tax Deferred Accounts
Interest in a closely held corporation
Stocks and Interest in unincorporated business
Possible vested benefits from employment:
Pension death benefit
Payment of accrued vacation or sick leave
Possible Refunds, such as a tax refund
Deferred Salary Plan
Cash Bonus Plans
Deferred Profit Sharing Plans
Short-Term Deferred Income
Stock Bonus Plans
Stock Purchase Plans
Share Unit Plans
Stock Appreciation Rights
Incentive Growth Funds
Money Owed to the Decedent
Loans given to private persons (Notes receivable)
Beneficial interest in an estate/trust
Other intellectual property
Automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, campers and trailers, boats, planes, farming vehicles, snowmobiles, other recreational vehicles or other vehicles
Valuable equipment such as sporting equipment, restaurant equipment, tools, photographic equipment, or equipment related to other vocations and/or hobbies
Valuable musical instruments, artwork, heirlooms, jewelry, china, crystal, furs, antiques
Valuable Collections such as guns, art, wine, coins, stamps, books, etc.
Valuable animals such as pets and livestock
Furniture and furnishings
Possible Unclaimed Property held by the State, such as the Treasurer of the State of Illinois
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