As people age, there is information they need to pass on to their next-of-kin to make sure that all of their final arrangements are honored. But it can be difficult to discuss end-of-life arrangements for anyone, especially when it is a child talking to a parent. No one wants to talk to their parents about buying burial plots or handling final wishes, but bringing up the subject while the parents are still lucid could cause a conversation that will lead to getting those final arrangement properly put in writing.
How do your parents want to be treated if they are placed on life support? Parents and children often have differing ideas on how life support should be treated, and that is why a living will is so important. If your parents never indicate their wishes to you or put those wishes into a living will, then it will be left up to you to decide what happens. The best approach is to make sure your parents have a living will, and that you are aware of those wishes so that you can take care of the situation properly if it ever arises.
If your parents reach a situation where there are end-of-life decisions to be made, it is important that valuable information is readily available. It is rare that the hospital your parents are sent to when a crisis occurs will have your parents complete medical file available, and that is where good estate planning comes into play.
Ask your parents to include a list of medical allergies they have and any medicinal preferences they would want you to use in an end-of-life situation. If your father is allergic to a certain medication that happens to be a common treatment for an illness he suffers that makes him unable to speak for himself, then knowing that allergy could save his life.
It is one thing for your parents to have a complete estate planned out with a will, living will, power of attorney, and all other essential documents in place, but it is quite another to be able to find those documents when you need them. The primary assumption would be that important paperwork is on file in the home, but that is not always the case. Some people prefer to keep their important paperwork in a safety deposit box at a local bank, or they may ask their attorney to hold that paperwork.
As you are discussing end-of-life arrangements with your parents, you should find out where their important paperwork is kept and make sure you can access it. If you don't have the key to the safe deposit box, then you cannot access the information you need to administer your parents' last wishes. If the paperwork is held by the family attorney, then discuss a process for retrieving the paperwork prior to an end-of-life episode.
It is never easy to discuss end-of-life arrangements with your parents, but it is an essential discussion if they want their final wishes to be honored. Set aside some time with your parents to make all of the arrangements you will need to make to be prepared for any end-of-life scenario.