Estate planning is an important topic that all families should discuss. By having a conversation with your parents about estate planning, you can help ensure their wishes are carried out after they pass away. There are a number of different things to consider when creating an estate plan, such as durable power of attorney and wills and trusts. You should understand the basics of estate planning and how to talk to your parents about it. Important Planning Documents There are several common documents that are utilized when creating an estate plan. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf. The person you appoint is known as your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.” They can make financial and legal decisions on your behalf, including signing documents, selling property, and managing bank accounts. Durable powers of attorney are typically used when someone is unable to make their own decisions due to an illness or injury. However, you can also use a durable power of attorney to appoint someone to handle your affairs if you’re out of the country or otherwise unavailable. Unlike a traditional power of attorney, a durable power of attorney remains active even if you become incapacitated. As a result, it’s an important tool for protecting your interests if you’re unable to make decisions for yourself. A health-care proxy delegates health-care decisions to a third person when your parent is unable to make them. Usually, this document also outlines procedures to be used to prolong life. A will is a legal document that details how a person’s assets will be distributed after their death. A person’s will can include things like real estate, personal possessions, and money. Creating a will is an important way to ensure that your belongings go to the people or causes that you care about. Without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not be in line with your wishes. Additionally, a will can help to avoid conflict among family members or friends after your death. Creating a will is an important step in planning for the future, and it can give you peace of mind knowing that your final wishes will be carried out. Your Parents It’s important to respect your parents’ boundaries and privacy. You don’t need to go into very much detail with them about their decisions, just make sure that they have a plan in place and that they’ve safeguarded that plan legally. Ask them for the location of their planning documents, so that you can find them once they pass. You can suggest that they leave a personal letter with their other documents explaining the rationale of their decisions, but ultimately that is up to them. You should also ask them their preferences for long-term care. Would they like to live with family, or in an assisted living facility? If they become ill, ask what life saving measures they would like to be performed. You can also ask what they would like in terms of funeral arrangements.