How to Talk to Your Parents About End-of-Life Care
It’s a conversation no one really wants to have. No one likes to think about their own death or the death of their parents. While it may be tempting to put off having this awkward conversation, here are some suggestions on how to talk to your parents about end-of-life care. It will make things much easier when the worst does happen.
In fact, having a plan in place, and knowing those closest to you are aware of and on board with the plan, can actually make aging easier. It’s a huge load off the mind to know what’s going to happen to your finances and your assets when you’re gone, and to know how you’re going to deal with the physical ailments and limited capacities that come with aging. Things like a will and long-term-care insurance may sound scary, but they’re actually designed to help you prepare for the next stage in life.
Here are some things you need to know about your parents’ end-of-life care, as well as some suggestions for how to broach the subject:
Do they have a will?
A will decides, not just where your money goes, but everything that has value to you – right down to mementos and even pets. And a verbal will isn’t enough. It has to be in writing and signed by you and an attorney. If no will exists that the court can recognize, then a probate court judge will divide the assets and decide who gets what, which can take months and cost the family members thousands of dollars.
Broaching the subject:
Let them know you’re aware it’s an uncomfortable subject, but that you just want to make sure their assets are taken care of the way they would want them to be once they’re gone.
To have a will drawn up, you’ll need to meet with a competent family law attorney who can guide you through the process.
Do they have a power of attorney?
Power of attorney gives another person the power to make legal and financial decisions when the person is no longer capable of making those decisions for themselves. Although you might assume the spouse or nearest relative would automatically be designated power of attorney in the absence of a legally binding document, that’s not actually the case. Instead, a judge will decide who will be the power of attorney, and they may or may not decide to make it the person you always assumed it would be. For example, a spouse without power of attorney can be left unable to access funds or assets to help pay for medical care, so it’s imperative to get a power of attorney put in place sooner rather than later.
Broaching the subject:
Every adult needs a power of attorney, so offer to go with your parents to have both your documents prepared together. If you’d each like to make the other your power of attorney, it would make the moment that much sweeter.
These things aren’t about tempting the Grim Reaper, they’re about accepting the fact that he’ll come sooner or later and it’s better to have a plan in place for when he comes than to leave loved ones high and dry at the height of their grief. Don’t compound the pain of loss by making the process of dealing with everything more difficult for those you leave behind.
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