Q: My parents are in their 70s, and my sister and I know they have a large nest egg. To date, they have not discussed the details as to how their assets are to be distributed. They are in their late 70s and have some health issues.
We would like to learn the provisions of their will and trusts so that we can be prepared to perform their wishes when it becomes necessary. We do not have the courage to ask for the answers because they are strong-willed and may resent us for asking, and it could cause friction. Should we ask?
A: The answer is that it is their money and therefore, their decision. There can be many reasons why some parents do not share their asset information.
You and your sister may not be getting equal dollars. Parents usually make distributions based on what they view your needs are and will be. Do they believe each of you is motivated, has a work ethic and has a sense of responsibility?
Are you healthy? Do they believe you and your spouses love each other? Are their special needs for a grandchild? Are they afraid if they disclose their plans you might be jealous?
Parents often think of what they might do if they lost their mate. They could be uncertain as to who should hold power of attorney for their health care. Unfortunately, in many cases when the second parent dies World War III becomes a reality.
Sometimes the winner is the first family member with a house key and truck. Rather than asking your parents directly for details, consider using a third-party question. Tell them one of your best friends' mothers died and her son felt cheated because she had not created a will, so the legal and estate taxes ate up the majority of her estate.
Then ask if they think now is the time for you and your sister to execute your own wills.