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Talking with Your Parents about Estate Planning and Healthcare Directives

There are two essential talks that a son or daughter should have with his or her parents. The first usually happens when a child begins his or her trek into adulthood. The second should take place as one's parents begin to pass into old age. The first is geared towards taking care of yourself, but the second should be focused on taking care of your parents.

Neither one is easy, but both are important.

Talking to a parent, or other loved one, about estate planning and advance healthcare directives is hard because it anticipates failing health and, eventually, death. However, it is an extremely important talk to have and, in the end, should protect your parents and make their passing easier.

Michelle Singletary, of The Washington Post, covered this very topic a couple weeks ago in her column. The first step is to broach the subject and that takes courage. Let your parents know that you are simply looking out for them and make sure that they are comfortable discussing financial and healthcare matters with you.

You will have to ask your parents about potentially sensitive financial matters, so it may take some coaxing, but will be worth it. Knowing where your parents are keeping their money will allow you to do research on whether or not there are better options for them.

Even more sensitive is the topic of advance healthcare directives, such as those contained in a living will. These legal documents will allow your parents to go on their own terms. For example, should all efforts be made to keep one alive if he or she can only be sustained by intensive life support?

There are additional, important questions to be asked and, by broaching the issue early, you can help ensure that your parents are protected and their wishes known.

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