Questions You Must Ask Your Loved Ones Before It’s Too Late
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 conditions they may 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.
I want to thank you so very much for taking the time in making that video as well as the questionnaire. I have downloaded it and plan on using it with my dad. I found a small typo though…
“You can also put it in a sealed envelope with instructions to open if incapacitated for deceased.”
I wish you all the best,
Thanks for the heads up!
I just stumbled on your blog while looking for input on cork flooring, our house by was set on fire in August and hopefully I can think about flooring in the next few weeks. Your floors give me hope. I am sorry for your loss and as I have also been in a similar situation with family I hope everyone will listen to your wisdom. I myself for my birthday update my will, my information, medical, financial, passwords, etc… And share with my loved ones. My father’s passing took time but my mother was active and just died at a young age. I do not wish trying to navigate a loved ones passing on anyone. But being prepared takes some of the stress and worry away.
Take care of yourself and enjoy the memories of your father.
Thank you Karena.
Sorry for your loss.
I am so sorry for your loss, how terrible. I wish you much kindness for your heart and patience for getting through all of it, the situation, the grief,and being needed in more than one place at a time.
Thank you for sharing this information. This has been on my agenda since my husband & I are older. I want to know we both have this info before we need it. I am very sorry for your loss.
This is so important! I would also add if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is very important to know all this early on. We waited too long with my father and he could not remember many important details. This made closing out his estate, once he had passed, extremely difficult and even more time consuming. He really didn’t have anything “estate” wise to speak of. So, also don’t think, “well, they don’t have anything. So, it shouldn’t be an issue”. That is not true. There are still many legal/tax hoops you have to jump through.
I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine. Actually, I can as I lost my Grandmother in much the same fashion. It was very fast and difficult to deal with and I had to take the lead on all the decision making through the acute illness and her arrangements.
My prayers are going up for you and your family. My sincere condolences.
Important information that everyone benefits from! My husband and I have been talking about this for years and really should have done it ages ago.
Deepest sympathy on the loss of your Dad.
I am so very sorry for the passing of your Dad. Thank you for taking time at such a painful period of your life to think about your followers. May God always keep your Dad resting in His Eternal Peace. God Bess you and your family always.
Take your time – we will be here. Losing a loved one can feel like a body blow. I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Dad. Thanks for your suggestions and please take care of yourself.
Excellent article. As the oldest, I went through this with my family. My deepest condolences
Dear Brittany, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your father. It seems that death is so natural but then no one really puts all the information out unless they have been through a similar situation and know the heartache you have suffered. You are so busy trying to sort out things that there is no time to grieve. Please take as much time as you need. We are all praying for you and your father. And, of course, we will all be patiently waiting for your return. Thank you for sharing the questions with us. My parents are gone so I am guessing it is now my turn to have that conversation with my husband. Blessings to you.
I’m reading this and thinking I want to print it out and fill out the information for my kids about me. I was widowed 20 years ago and my sons aren’t overly keen on talking about my passing. I remember so many of the things I had to deal with, and that was before we had passwords and pins for everything!! So, thank you Brittany for providing this resource.