Up to the minute closings and delays

4 Seniors: How to handle your parents’ finances, policies

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OKLAHOMA CITY - When it comes to your parents, most children don't have a clue about their family's financial situation or end-of-life plans.

However, experts say you should learn about your parents' finances, insurance policies and long-term care plans.

Officials suggest you make a list of personal information that you may need for the future.

  • Contacts: Make a list of names and phone numbers of close friends, clergy, their doctors, lawyer, accountant, broker, tax preparer, insurance agent, etc.
  • Personal Documents: Find out where they keep their Social Security card, marriage license, military discharge papers, etc.
  • Secured Places: Make a list of places they keep under lock and key or protected by password, such as online accounts, safe deposit boxes, safe combination, security alarms, etc.
  • Service Providers: Make a list of the companies or people who provide them regular services like utility companies, lawn service, etc.
  • Medical Information: Make a copy of their medical history (any drug allergies, past surgeries, etc.) and a list of medications they take.
  • Pets: If they have a pet, what are their instructions for the animal’s care?
  • End of Life: What are their wishes for organ or body donation, and their funeral instructions? If they’ve made pre-arrangements with a funeral home get a copy of the agreement and whether they’ve prepaid or not.

Legal documents can also cause problems in the future if you are not prepared.

  • Will: Do they have an updated will or trust and where is it located?
  • Power of Attorney: Do they have a power of attorney document that names someone to handle their financial matters if they become incapacitated?
  • Advance Directives: Do they have a living will and a medical power of attorney that spells out their wishes regarding their end-of-life medical treatment?

Finally, finances can not only affect your parents but can also have an impact on your life.

  • Income and Debt: Make a list of their income sources such as pensions, Social Security, IRAs, 401Ks, investments, etc. And do the same for any debt (mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, etc.) they may have.
  • Financial Accounts: Make a list of the banks and brokerage accounts they use (checking, savings, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc.) and their contact information.
  • Company Benefits: Make a list of any retirement plans, pensions or benefits from their former employer including the contact information of the benefits administrator.
  • Insurance: Make a list of the insurance policies they have (life, long-term care, home, auto, Medicare, etc.) including the policy numbers.
  • Property: Make a list of the real estate, vehicles or other properties they own, and where they keep the deeds and titles.
  • Credit Cards: Make a list of all their credit and charge cards, including the card numbers and contact information.
  • Taxes: Find out where they keep copies of past year’s tax returns.

If you don't know how to talk about the information, visit the Conversation Project for help.

For more information, visit the Elder Care website.