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Many aging parents hesitate to share vital information about financial affairs with their children. However, when aging parents become unable to make decisions, care for themselves, or die, adult children who are uninformed about their parents' possessions or desires will be ill-prepared to act on their parents' behalf. Initiate the discussion sooner rather than later.

If parents initiate the discussion, they should reassure the adult child that they are planning ahead rather than responding to a particular medical condition. When adult children initiate the conversation, they might open by discussing friends who have faced difficulties when their aging parents failed to plan ahead.

Early conversations may focus on estate planning, while later conversations can provide details about insurance or investments. Who will serve as executor of the will or authorized representative for a medical power of attorney? Is there a list of all advisers--accountants, attorneys, and investment counselors? Where are important documents, including property deeds? Have the parents prepared a living will and medical power of attorney? The living will provides instructions to medical personnel if the parent is unable to make decisions about life support, while the medical power of attorney authorizes a family member or representative to make medical decisions on the parents' behalf.

Make sure there's a will, covering all possessions intended for a specific recipient, and a letter of last instructions, which expresses personal wishes such as directions for the funeral service. Store the letter in an accessible location.

Finally, periodically review all financial plans and documents. Call Hawaii Central Federal Credit Union at 536-3677 about accounts and current beneficiaries.

Copyright 2014 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.