DEAR HARRY: My sister and I are having a hard time convincing our parents to let us know about their plans regarding many things associated with their retirement and, ultimately, death. They had their wills prepared by a lawyer who specializes in estate plans, but we have not seen them. Their combined estate is worth between $2 million and $3 million. They seem to feel that we're greedy when we try to open a discussion. How can we get them to discuss with us all the things they would want if they are unable to care for themselves? Dad is 88, and mother is 87. Both are in relatively good health, and they manage well without our help. My father's brother just died in an accident, and his widow and children are going crazy trying to find things. We'd like to avoid that, too.
WHAT HARRY SAYS: Your uncle's death may be the way to get them to open up. Point out the troubles his survivors are having as a means of getting started. There are many things you should know beyond the money issues, and it may be the best way to start. Where will you find records? The names of their professional advisers, from physicians to bankers, are important. What are their desires for living quarters? For care if needed? For terminal-illness measures? For funerals? You can get to the financial matters last. For many people, finances are harder to discuss than health. Good luck!