Do You Know What You Need To Know About Mom And Dad?

If your elderly parents were suddenly seriously injured in a car accident, suffered a stroke or unexpectedly passed away, would you know what their assets are and where to find the documents you would need to handle their financial affairs? Have you been kept in the dark because of their understandable wish to remain independent? Or has one parent left all financial decisions up to the other so that the death or incapacitation of the primary decision maker has caused turmoil?

You would be wise to have a discussion with your parents long before an accident or illness forces a frantic search for legal documents and assets. Here are some of the topics you should cover:

Home or real estate

Where is the deed and how is the property titled?
Is there a mortgage? With whom?
How are taxes paid?


Where are the titles kept?
Is there a lien on the vehicle?

Bank accounts

In what banks, credit unions, or other institutions are there accounts?
In whose names are the accounts?
Are there CDs which may come due?

Other investments

Are there stocks and bonds, real estate, etc.?
Who is the broker?
Where is the documentation kept?

Retirement plans

What benefits are available to the retiree?
What benefits are available to a surviving spouse?
Who are the beneficiaries of IRAs, 401Ks, etc?

Safe deposit box

Do your parents have one?
Where is it and where is the key?
Is there an inventory of the contents of the box?

Insurance policies

Who provides homeowners, automobile, health and life insurance?
Where are the policies?
Who is the agent?

Income tax records

Where are past returns?
Have documents been gathered in preparation for next filing?
Is there a CPA or bookkeeper?

Other legal documents

Is there a Will? Where?
If a Trust has been established, where are the documents?
Is there a durable power of attorney? Who has been designated? Where is a copy?
Is there a Living Will? Is it on file with doctors/hospitals? Where is a copy?


What is owed and to whom?
How are payments made?

Contact information for:

Financial advisor/broker
Insurance agent
Past employer
Healthcare providers

Protect your elderly loved ones as well as yourself by sharing information and preparing in advance for the day when they need help with their business affairs. An accident or injury can have ramifications completely aside from bodily harm and suffering. You will be better able to help shoulder some of the daily burden then if you do some background investigation now.