o Parents' Planning: Often the best way to open a discussion with elderly parents is by focusing on personal, not money, issues. Do your parents have a living will? Do they have specific personal wishes they may want respected? Religious preferences? If you open with non-money issues it is less offensive and your parents are less likely to feel you are motivated by greed than by concern for them.There is no shortage of reallife problems in the press that can be used to remind your parents of the importance of addressing these issues. Use a current article as a catalyst for a discussion about your parents planning. The tone and approach should be "Mom….I'm worried….How can I help you? How can I make sure what you want done will be done your way?" Once the door is opened you can continue to address the most vital personal issues: "Mom did you sign a living will and health care proxy? Did you give copies to your agent? (that is instead of asking for a copy for yourself incase a sibling or other family member was named). "Mom did you prepare a power of attorney so if you become ill someone can make sure your bills are paid? Can I help?"Once the initial hurdle is surmounted, you can go on to address the other issues.
o Quicken: Use it for more than just paying bills. Listing all assets you own, even if you don't enter all transactions, is a great way to provide those you rely on a current check list of accounts, assets, etc. Be sure to back up onto CDs and store offsite. Consider giving your agent your back-up copies along with pass codes. In an emergency your agent (e.g., under a power of attorney) will have the data at hand to help. Schedule recurring payments (e.g., insurance, monthly mortgage, etc.). If you are disabled (or die) the reminders will be a tremendous help to your agent (executor).
o Unused Trusts: If you have a trust that is no longer used, or was never funded, have the grantor, trustees and beneficiaries all sign an acknowledgement terminating the trust. No loose ends. In the event of an IRS audit, or other issue, there is a record of terminating the trust agreed to by all.
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