Life Insurance

Questions to Ask Your Parents Before They Die

grown daughter talking to older father
No one wants to think about losing their parents, let alone experience it. Yet, we're mortal, and end-of-life planning is an inevitable part of life. Although there may be no way to make the end-of-life subject palatable, it can help to approach it with a certain mindset – it's an integral part of having the wishes of our loved ones fulfilled.

There are several considerations when determining an end-of-life care plan for a parent. Many of these may be of a private and personal nature. Other factors are straightforward, such as dealing with the estate and preparing for burial wishes. 

Knowing ahead of time what questions to ask parents can make the process smoother and completed in a timely manner, so that you and your loved ones can spend the rest of your time being together. 

End-of-life planning

An end-of-life plan is meant to facilitate your wishes after you can no longer enact them yourself. This plan goes into your estate and expresses your intent regarding your assets and more personal matters, like burial wishes. 

While an end-of-life plan is vital for maintaining our desires in this way, it can also relieve the pressure and obligation on our loved ones at a particularly vulnerable time. Consider times when someone has just lost a loved one or when their parents are unconscious or in intense medical care and unable to speak. 

In these situations, knowing the plan ahead of time can take out a great deal of guesswork and allow you to simply focus on being present for your loved ones.

7 Questions to ask your parents

It's unpleasant to even consider the critical questions to ask your parents before they die. Still, it's essential to go through this end-of-life checklist to assure your parents' affairs are handled in the way they'd like.

Many of these questions can be used as life update questions throughout a person's life. There are many important financial and insurance questions to consider. However, the most important to you and your loved ones may be those that aren't mentioned here. 

And there's no reason you can't ask them about their favorite stories — like their first crush or date together — while working to answer these more technical questions. In fact, personalizing your approach can be a great way to ease discomfort. The following list can serve as a valuable end-of-life plan template:

  1. Who are your attorneys, doctors, and insurance agents?

Make a list of the individuals and their employer organizations with contact information and titles next to the names. Having all your parents' important contacts in one place can make communication and logistics easier.

  1. Have you made a will?

If they've made a will, ask for a copy of it and the name of the attorney who they worked with. If they haven't made a will, recommend speaking with an attorney to create one. This is also an excellent time to ask if their beneficiaries are up to date.

  1. What are your insurance policies?

Gather copies of all their insurance policies, whether car, house, or life, and keep this with the rest of your end-of-life documents. If they need you to file on their behalf, you already have the information ready. Reviewing some insurance basics can help you determine when these policies may be required.

  1. Where do you keep your tax and financial documents?

Financial documents can be a headache, especially when they're someone else's, but not having a clear view of the financial situation can lead to much worse. Keep track of their documents and consider using a spreadsheet or other software to create a comprehensive view of their finances.

  1. Do you have credit, loans, or other debt to track?

In tandem with organizing the financial records, including any debt from credit cards, loans, or other sources is essential. While debt doesn't generally pass on to heirs, the estate is still responsible for it.

  1. Where are your financial accounts?

Beyond tracking past financial paperwork and current debt, it's vital to include active financial accounts. Your loved one can speak with the banks involved and have you formally added to their accounts. 

  1. How would you like your memorial service to be?

It makes a parent's passing a little easier if you know how they would like their memorial and burial services to go. Some people want to be cremated, while others choose burial. People have favorite memories they wish to include in their memorials, or specific guests they'd like invited. Whatever their wishes are, it's important to take detailed notes and ensure they know you'll do your best to honor them.

Life insurance and end-of-life planning

There are a few types of life insurance commonly used for end-of-life planning. Many people consider life insurance for seniors when making an end-of-life plan. There are less extensive insurance options, though, like final expense insurance. These policies have much smaller coverage than standard life insurance, and the premium cost is significantly less. The goal of final expense insurance is to cover burial and memorial costs. Although Ethos doesn't offer insurance specifically for final expenses, any of our plans can be used for that purpose, including our whole life plans.

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