This year has been a tough one (as I know it has been for everyone). In December my father had a fall, he lost his balance and fell down only four steps. My life was thrown into turmoil for several months trying to help my Dad’s wife with all the things that come with a medical emergency. Unfortunately, my father passed away as an indirect result of his injuries in February.
Questions You Must Ask Your Loved Ones Before They Can’t Answer You
Although my Dad was a very organized person and had planned for this moment, we quickly found that there were a few roadblocks we ran into while trying to take care of my Dad’s estate. For that reason, I wanted to create a roadmap for anyone to use for starting a conversation with their parents or loved ones. Being the oldest child, this is a conversation I need to have with several of my aging family members, so I’m glad to be able to have this questionnaire I can use for conversations with the rest of my family.
To help you, I’ve created a downloadable questionnaire you can email or print out for your own use. Please do not make a copy and use it for profit. (But, you wouldn’t do that, would you?)
I made a video to share with you all the questions you’ll want to ask your loved ones before it’s too late.
How to approach the subject
Having a discussion about your loved one dying can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. You can always start out the conversation by saying something like, “My friend, Brittany. just lost her father and she gave me a list of things she found helpful to have from her Dad before he passed.” Another conversation starter can be that you read about someone who passed away and how difficult it was for their family because there were many unanswered questions. Or you can leave death out of the equation and start the conversation by saying, “If anything were to happen and you were incapacitated, I’d like to be as helpful as possible. Would you mind if I ask you some personal questions?”
Topics you’ll want to discuss before your loved one dies:
- Legal Documents
- Medical Information and Advanced Directives
- Financials and Investments
- Safety Deposit Box and/or Safe
- Life Insurance, Pensions, Social Security
- Important Documents
- Credit Cards and Debt
- Funeral Arrangements, Last Wishes, Burial, etc.
Questions You Need to Ask Your Loved Ones:
These are some of the questions that you want to ask. And don’t worry about writing this down, because this is the link to download the questionnaire. Print out this questionnaire, you could mail it to your loved one, if that’s more comfortable than a sit down conversation.
- Do They Have A Will? In their will, do they have a power of attorney? Do they have all the information on where they want their assets to go? Any property, things like that. Ask for the name of the lawyer? Where can you get a copy if needed? If they don’t have a will, strongly encourage them to have a will because it really simplifies things after someone has passed.
- Ask Them If They Have Any Medical Information That They Can Share With You. Is there a file that you can get access too that lists medication or medical conditoins they have. This may be pertinent information that needs to be passed on to a doctor if they’re incapacitated.
It’s also important for your loved one to have an advanced medical directive. An advanced medical directive is basically a document saying what they want to happen if they’re on life support, and/or there’s no hope of them recovering. In other words, do they want to be kept alive in a coma-type situation with a feeding tube and a breathing tube, especially when there’s no hope for recovery? This document is super important because it takes the stress of those decisions off the loved ones. It also is something that goes on file if they are hospitalized, that basically expresses their wishes so close family doesn’t have to guess and make a decision themselves.
- Ask Your Loved One If They Have A List Of Financial Institutions Where They Have Accounts. This isn’t just bank accounts. This can also be retirement accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. Make sure they have an up-to-date list of that information that they can share with you or tell you where that documentation is.
- Do They Have A Safety Deposit Box? Or do they have a safe that you need to have access to if they’re incapacitated or if they die? Ask them what bank is the safety deposit box at? What number is it? Is there a key? How would they get access?
Maybe your loved one has a safe. Some safes are not easy to get into. My dad had an ancient antique safe that was not a similar combination to the lockers you used in high school. Luckily, he had sent my sister a video on how to actually get into it. Otherwise, there’s no way we would have been able to get into that safe, no way. We would have called a locksmith to drill a hole into it, bomb it, or something — I don’t know.
- Do They Have Life Insurance Policies, Pensions, Social Security Information? Ask them to have this information in writing somewhere. It’s helpful to have contact information for those institutions if you need to call them.
- Where They Keep Their Important Documents? Things like birth certificates, marriage certificates, titles for a house, a car, vehicles, and property are important documents that will be needed by the executor. Make sure you know where those are after your loved one has died.
- Credit Card Information. This is super important if your loved one is incapacitated, and is unable to make financial decisions to pay the bills. Make sure you have a list of all their credit cards and the account numbers or know where to access them. A lot of times your parent or loved ones are not going to feel comfortable giving you that information right away. And that’s okay. Express to them, you don’t want the information now, you just want to know where you can access it. Do they have that organized where if they were to become incapacitated where you could access it? Or ask them to put the information in a sealed envelope only to be opened if they die or are incapacitated.
- Passwords. Okay, this is the biggest one. We didn’t have this for my dad. And so it did complicate things. Ask them if they have a list of passwords, or encourage them to use a one password type security program that would make it a lot easier for you to get into their computer to try to access files that you might need, or to be able to get into some of their banking accounts and things like that. We didn’t have my Dad’s password. Luckily, we were able to reset a couple of them using his email. But we had to do it on his mobile phone because that’s the only way we could actually get into his email since we didn’t have the password for his computer. Ask if there is a password book, file, or something that you can get access to if needed.
- Funeral Arrangements, Last Wishes, or Burial Information. Where does your loved one want to be buried, or do they want to be cremated? Have they pre-paid for a burial plot or with a cremation society? Are there any specific things they want in their funeral service (or that they don’t want. My husband has explicitly asked for no organ music in his final wishes.) Also, are there any final wishes they want to share with you? Any charities they want donations made to in their memory? Any possessions they have that they wish to gift to someone in particular.
Just a reminder, you didn’t need to take notes, once again, here’s the questionnaire where you can print out, read to your loved ones, or mail it to them in the description below. I really hope this information helps you. I really hope that you never have to go through what I went through. Hopefully, your loved one is organized or at least you can help them be more organized, which really takes a lot of stress off of you and other family members or loved ones in case of an emergency.
I promise I will be back soon. As soon as I can get myself together. I have some more Millie’s Remodel updates for you. Here’s a sneak peek of the next tutorial!
Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your messages. And I hope you all take care, stay healthy, and I’ll see you soon.