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Study Finds that Parents and Adult Children Fail to Discuss End-Of-Life Financial Issues

Whiteboard that reads plan for retirement

It’s challenging to broach topics like what will happen with your aging parents’ finances as they get older, or how their long-term care will be managed and paid for. While it’s unpleasant to dwell on your parents’ mortality, these are necessary discussions to have in order to ensure that your parents’ wishes are carried out, as they are discussions you will be unable to have should your parents suddenly become seriously ill or injured. A new study looked at the ways in which parents and their adult children had different ideas about how these financial issues would be handled, drawing attention to the importance of having detailed discussions with your parents about estate and end-of-life care planning.

The Fidelity Investments Family & Finance study spoke with one parent and one adult child from each participating family. The researchers asked the participants such questions as, “Who will your parents name as the executor of their estate?” and, “Do you think it’s acceptable to be financially dependent on your children?” The study uncovered that the majority of parents and children were not in agreement on how these matters would be handled. For example, nearly half of all parents said they had not had detailed conversations with their children or family about their long-term care. About 70% of parents claim to have had in-depth conversations about their estate plan with their children, but nearly 50% of children claim they’ve never discussed this issue with their parents. 75% of parents assume that their children will handle arranging for their long-term care, but only 35% of children polled assumed they would be handling this duty. 90% of parents plan to appoint a child as executor of their estate, but only about 30% of those parents’ children realized they’d be asked to carry out this task. Researchers found disagreement on even basic questions such as, “Do you know where to find your parent’s wills or advanced health care directives?” Three out of every ten of the families polled disagreed on whether their kids knew where these critical documents were stored.

Don’t wait until illness or dementia strikes to have these discussions with your parents. In order to ensure that you cover all necessary issues, it may be helpful to allow an experienced estate planning attorney to facilitate this conversation with your parents, and to memorialize your parents’ wishes in writing through an estate plan and living will. This way, you can feel confident that you understand how your parents wish to spend their final years, and your parents can rest assured knowing that their wishes will be honored.

For assistance with creating an estate plan or trust in New York, contact the skilled and detail-oriented Hudson Valley estate planning attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a consultation on your case, in Kingston at 845-331-4100, or in Marlboro at 845-236-4411.

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