Dear Savvy Senior,

My siblings and I don’t know much about our elderly parents’ financial situation or their wishes if something happens to them. What’s the best way to handle this, and what all should we know?

Tentative Daughter

Dear Tentative,

Many adult children don’t know much about their elderly parents’ financial situation or end-of-life plans, but they should. Getting up to speed on their finances, insurance policies, long-term care plans and other information is important because some day you might have to help them handle their financial affairs or care, or execute their estate plan after they die. Without this information, your job becomes much more difficult.

Have the conversation

If you’re uncomfortable talking to your parents about this topic, use this column as a prompt or start by talking about your own finances or estate plan as a way to ease into it.

Also see, which offers free kits that can help you kick-start these discussions.

It’s a good idea to get your siblings involved, too. This can help head off possible hard feelings and with others involved, your parents will know everyone is concerned.

When you talk with your parents, you’ll need to collect some information, find out where they keep key documents and how they want certain things handled when they die or if they become incapacitated. Here’s a checklist of areas to focus on.

Personal, health information

Contacts: Make a list of names and phone numbers of their doctors, lawyer, accountant, broker, tax preparer, insurance agent, etc.

Medical information: Make a copy of their medical history, any…