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5 Questions to Ask Your Parents about Their Future

Thinking about the future? You might be imagining a new career or bigger house. Maybe you see yourself getting married or your children going off to university. But what about your parents? Where will they be in five or 10 years?

Now may be the time to ask your parents about their future. It’s important to know how your parents feel about retirement and if they are prepared for it. Though this conversation may cover tricky topics that you’d rather avoid—money, illness, death—it could help your entire family have a happier future.

With that in mind, here are six questions you might want to ask your parents about their future:

1. Do you have enough money saved for retirement?

You may have parents who speak openly about their finances, but many do not.  At some point, your parents are going to stop working, if they haven’t already. While you don’t need to know the exact amount of money your parents have in the bank, you may want to know if they are prepared for the future.

This can be a sensitive conversation, but you could ask a few questions to help get it started: Do your parents have retirement goals or plans? Do they have a good idea how much these will cost? Will there be enough money to support them through their old age? Have they saved extra for unplanned emergencies?

Hopefully your parents have taken all of this into consideration and received solid financial advice. If not, it may not be too late to help them reconsider their retirement dreams and save a bit more if they’re still working. You may want to think about doing exactly the same!

2. How do you feel about aged care facilities?

You hope that your parents stay strong and healthy forever, but there may come a time when they need a little help around the house or are no longer able to care for themselves.  Perhaps they can stay in their home and have a full-time nurse, but sometimes that is not an option.

The decision to move a parent into a retirement home or care facility is a difficult one.  Most older people don’t like change, and they may get angry or confused if this is done suddenly or without their consent. Having a discussion now could help get everyone on the same page should this day ever come.

Your parents may not want to have this conversation at all, but it may help to remind them that it’s better to be prepared for this kind of thing. Seeking information on how much each option may cost could impact your final decision. From there, you may want to go see a few homes together or put their names on waiting lists (with their consent).

3. Do you have end-of-life care plans?

In addition to determining where your parents might live in the future, you may want to know if they have any other health care plans in place. There may come a time when one or both of them can no longer make decisions for themselves. Now might be the time to choose who will take on this responsibility if it comes to that.

An advance directive is one way to help settle this possibility. This document can name the person who will make medical and other important decisions should your parent be placed in a coma, suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or be otherwise incapacitated. It can also outline the types of medical interventions they want, to help you and their doctors follow their wishes.

4. Have you written a Will?

Many people assume that only the wealthy need a Will, but just about anyone can benefit from having one! If there is no Will when someone passes away, it can take months or even years to sort out their estate. You probably don’t want to be in the situation where you’re unable to access bank accounts, investments or tie up other loose ends after your parents die.

Writing a Will might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. If your parents have a fairly straightforward estate, they may not even need to hire a lawyer to write theirs. Simple Will kits are available online—often for free. It’s wise to check the requirements in your country before you begin to ensure that any Will written is legally binding.

5.  Do you have any funeral plans?

Talking about things like money and living situations with your parents might seem hard enough, but there’s one more topic you may want to discuss: funeral arrangements. Funerals are not just emotional, they can also be expensive. Families sometimes find themselves out-of-pocket or even in debt paying for a loved one’s funeral, often because they never talked about it when the person was still alive.

Ask your parents if they have funeral plans. These could include preferences (Burial or cremation?), wishes and ideas (What songs do they want sung or performed at the service?), or any arrangements they’ve already made (Have they pre-purchased a burial plot?). They don’t need to plan out every detail, but a general idea of what they’d like could help down the road.

This should give you a good idea of what to expect when it comes to costs. Ask your parents if they’ve set aside money in savings for the expense of a funeral or if they have any life insurance policies that could be used for this. If not, a funeral insurance policy might be a good option to help pay for funeral arrangements when the time comes.