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It's time to talk about estate planning with your aging parents

When your parents are getting older, you might be wondering about their end-of-life plans. You know some of their wishes, like what happens if they fall ill or have to go to a nursing home, but no one has outright spoken about their estate plans or other specifics.

It's a good idea to sit your parents down to talk to them about this, especially if you believe that you may be appointed as their financial power of attorney. A power of attorney is a document that appoints someone to make financial decisions on behalf of an ill or impaired person who cannot make their own decisions. This is particularly important as older people age, especially if there is a risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other memory-related illnesses. You should talk to your parents about their wishes and who they want making sensitive decisions when they can no longer do so.

You should also talk to them about their health care wishes and who they want to have as their health care agent. While they might choose an accountant or attorney for a financial power of attorney, a health care proxy is sometimes a job better suited to those they know and love (and who love them back). Their health care agent will make decisions for them if they can't do so themselves, but only regarding their health care.

Having this discussion might be tough, depending on how your family is about talking about death or end-of-life wishes. If you need to, you can speak with an attorney to have them help guide the conversation.

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