The ESTA application form now asks for parent's names. My parents are both dead, and I am 66 yrs old.
Parents names were added to the ESTA application last year. The DHS Document on this change states that :
With the addition of the new data elements, the Department is better equipped to identify travelers of interest and distinguish them from legitimate travelers, thereby improving DHS’s security capabilities while also facilitating the entry of lawful visitors. In addition to the enhanced vetting capability, the collection of additional name, dual citizenship, city of birth, home address, telephone number, parents’ names, and national identification number data reduces the likelihood that an applicant with derogatory holdings will be automatically approved for a travel authorization. All of the requested employer data is used to identify ESTA applicants who associate with persons of interest due to law enforcement or security concerns.
It doesn't matter if your parents are alive or dead - the question is still relevant and should be answered.