Decisions about your end of life wishes are deeply personal and can be a challenging conversation for many families. It’s impossible to foresee every type of circumstance or illness, so it’s important that you have these critical discussions before it’s too late. Although it may be an uncomfortable conversation to bring up, you and your kids will feel more prepared and confident for decisions related to your end of life wishes.

Step One: Choose the Right Time

There’s no good time for a heavy conversation. Letting your kids prepare for it ahead of time, however, is a good way to ease into the discussion instead of making them feel blindsided. Ideally, you would like to have this conversation when you’re in great health and there’s nothing to worry about. Often, however, health concerns trigger the need to have a discussion about your end of life wishes. Whenever you choose to have the discussion, make sure that you and your kids are comfortable. Sitting around the living room of your home may be better than tackling the conversation in a restaurant. Leave plenty of time to have an honest, in-depth conversation without anyone feeling rushed.

Step Two: Bring Out the Paperwork

There’s plenty of paperwork that comes along with preparing for the last days of your life and ensuring that your needs are met according to your wishes. This includes:

  • Your will
  • Your advance healthcare directive
  • Power of attorney

Explain what’s included in that paperwork and what you’d like to have happen in various situations. This may include discussing why you designated a specific child as the executor of your will or gave them medical power of attorney in the event that you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.

Step Three: Discuss Other Legal Requirements

In addition to your will and power of attorney, there are some other important details you’ll need to cover. You may want, for example, to designate one or more of your children as authorized users on your banking and investment accounts. This will allow them to make financial decisions for you if you are no longer able to take care of them yourself, including paying your bills, removing funds from your investment account for your personal use, and depositing funds into your accounts if necessary.

You’ll also want to make sure that your children are aware of your long-term insurance, health insurance, and life insurance policies. Keep the paperwork for your insurance in a place where they’ll be able to find it or provide them with copies of your plans. That way, if you do need access to those policies, you’ll know where to look.

Step Four: Cover Your Wishes

In some families, it’s normal to discuss end of life plans. Others, however, may require a specific discussion that allows you to make your wishes known. Make sure you cover:

  • Any information about the type of funeral you want to have, including whether you’d like to be cremated or buried
  • At what point you would prefer measures to extend your life be ended
  • Anyone who should be notified in the event of your death
  • What your thoughts and concerns are on nursing home care, especially if you happen to have Alzheimer’s or dementia and are unable to participate in choosing a senior living community

Covering all the details of your life wishes can be difficult but by sharing openly with your family, you can make this important discussion impactful. As a result, you’ll feel confident that you and your children are more prepared for the inevitable and that your end of care wishes will be taken care of.

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