By Sally A. Dalton, EA in Orgeon, Ohio

Mom & dad getting older? It’s not easy to discuss your parents’ wishes for the future, but it may be one of the most important talks you’ll ever have.

1.Who are your doctors? In the event of a medical crisis, you should know who their doctors, therapists, dentist, and pharmacists are. Also, you should have a list of the medications that they are taking and the results of the latest tests.

2.What medications are you taking? Get a list of prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements and over the counter drugs as well as any allergies. Keep an annual
update of this list.

3.What do you want me to do when you can’t make your own decisions about your health? Your parent should have a living will-a legal document that spells out their end-of-live wishes-is a must. Also, a durable power of Attorney for health purposes is also a must. This enables a person of their choice to make medical decisions when your parent is not competent to do so. Give copies of these forms to your parents’ doctors and close family members.

4.Where do you keep your financial papers? Reassure your parents that you don’t need to know their assets, just where they keep the important information. Social Security and Medicare info, pensions, investments, interest. Bank account numbers, credit card numbers, insurance policies, location of any safety deposit box and any debts should be kept in one file.

5.Where do you think you want to live? There are many options-home health care aides, assisted living, retirement communities and nursing homes. Knowing
what you parents want and can afford helps in making the decision when that time comes. Your parents have visited friends in alternative living situations and have some sort of opinion about where they would like to live. It may surprise you, but most parents do not want to live with their children.

6.What is your goal in life right now? How do your parents want to spend their golden years. Do they want to live long enough to see their grandchildren married and to meet their great-grand children? Do they just want to be around if they can tend to their garden? Do they want to travel? Is golfing necessary for their happiness? Find out what your parents can’t live without and then you’ll have an insight into what decisions to make on the tough life or death issue.

7.What type of final arrangements would you like? This is a tough topic to discuss with your parents. But knowing if they have pre-planned or pre-paid their
funeral expenses and what funeral home, is a topic for parents and children to discuss. What cemetery, do you have a plot, do you want to be buried or cremated? If you know the answers to these questions then you will be less vulnerable to the sales pitch of a funeral home owner. This is a discussion for the entire family, so that everyone understands your parents’ wishes.

8.How do you want your possessions distributed? The object here is to honor your parents’ wishes and to also keep peace in the family. In a perfect world, there would be a will instructing how all possessions should be distributed. Without a will, family members can get into very heated arguments over who gets what. Remember, if there is no will, the government will get their share and some judge may decide how the estate will be divided. This leads to family fights and
Permanent severed relationships. At least, discuss their most sentimental items and who they want to inherit them.