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Letters: An estate planning primer

For our all-things-seniors episode, we tackle some burning questions for the over-50 set. Jill Schlesinger of CBS MoneyWatch answers questions on the particulars of buying savings bonds for grand and godchildren, what to do if you absolutely need to break into your 401(k) and how to approach parents about their estate. Jill gives a checklist on what financial information needs to be accounted for and how to broach the difficult combination of death and money with your parents.

Take a listen!

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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I discussed with my parents about this and they were very happy to discuss such things with me, I am their only son and they trust my recommendations. They live in another state and now they plan to buy a house in my neighborhood, I presented them a couple of offers from http://www.cedarcityera.com/ to let them decide what they want.

My wife and I are both 58 ("close to 60" as Abby says) and I don't find her interest at all offensive. We have two daughters - 28 and 31 and we welcome conversations like this because it shows, like Abby, that our daughters are paying attention and caring. I'd be glad to go over any of our plans with our daughters. We've discussed some of this with them and they each have key and combination to a small safe where most (but not all) of the checklist items mentioned are organized. We're both healthy. We kayak, hike, run, cycle and travel more than we did when we were younger but I also know that I could get whacked any day by a car in my busy city bicycle commute to work. The fact that Abby's parents are "close to 60" and "retired" may indicate they are more prepared than many so she may find they are in good shape. Either way - let's welcome our kids asking questions like this. It's not greedy, over protective or anything like it. Good for you Abby!

If Abby had asked for guidance talking with her parents about their finances, that would have made perfect sense to me. I've had many adult-to-adult conversations with my own parents about their finances--as well as my own. They have a list with all the same information about my financial dealings as I have for theirs. But as I recall, Abby wanted to know how she could "help" her parents. It was her suggestion that they are not able to manage such weighty matters on their own that I find offensive.

I had the same reaction as Billtmore. I just turned 60, and I'm "still" (if you can imagine this!) doing week-long wilderness canoe trips and working on Habitat for Humanity trips in Central America, and my own parents (in their mid-80s) are still taking care of their own finances--quite competently, I might add. Unless Abby's parents have significant health issues, it seems highly unlikely that they need assistance from a 23-year-old daughter to get their affairs in order. I find Abby's question insulting, but I'm even more aggravated with the producers of Marketplace Money for thinking this question merited air time. Yes, good record keeping is important--but it's important for everyone, even 23-year-olds, not just old-timers of 50. The story should have been framed as good advice for all adults.

That call from Abby just about made me cough out all my coffee! Abby, your folks are 50!!!!! If they are like me they don't feel it and probably would laugh out loud if you bring up anything more than a scenario of accidental death and making sure they have a will. 50! I am almost 60 and I would be more than a bit amused if my kids brought up something too deep and detailed. yes, your folks should have an up to date will and a letter detailing account and logins etc beyond that, I hope they have another 50 years to enjoy!!! which would put you at 73!

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