Friday, July 18, 2014

Questions to ask your grandparents & parents right away

I was just back in my home town in Kentucky for the funeral of my paternal grandmother. I'll be writing about that experience later.

Per that experience, I am begging you - BEGGING YOU - please make an appointment with your grandparents and parents - do not wait for this to happen - and ask them:
  • "Have you prepared a will? If yes, where is it, and has the signature been NOTARIZED (not just witnessed)?" Make it clear that you are not asking to see it, you are merely asking where it is, so you will know where it is when it is needed.
  • "Have you been working with an attorney or financial advisor? If yes, what are their names?" Make it clear that you will NOT be contacting them yourself, that you just want to know their details for when such is needed. 
  • "Do you have life insurance policies? If yes, where are they, do you have beneficiaries listed (you don’t have to know who - make that clear that you aren’t asking), and has your signature been NOTARIZED?"
  • "Who do you want to handle your estate (your house, your possessions, your finances) and funeral plans after you pass away? Is this in WRITING and, if so, where do I find it?" 
  • "May I make an appointment for you to discuss your finances with a pro, so I can make sure you will always be taken care of, and so I can make changes in my finances if I need to contribute to make sure you will always be taken care of?" People are living well into their 90s and past 100 - what are you going to do if your grandparents or parents run out of money at, say, 85?
Again, do not wait for the "right time" for this to happen - make a date for it to happen! Be honest about why you want to have this discussion!

I’m very lucky that my sister got most of these questions answered many years ago with our Mamaw and handled EVERYTHING. But I’ve seen the consequences for people who don’t. And I've also seen the consequences for people that assume that the laws that allowed a signature to be merely witnessed back in the 1950s, rather than also notarized, are still valid today and will be accepted by, say, an insurance company. The consequences of not doing the aforementioned with parents and grandparents tears families apart and makes the lives of spouses, children and grandchildren HELL.

Please do this. Please.

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