Steps For Starting the End-of-Life Conversation

No one wants to discuss death and dying. And yet, it’s a critical time in everyone’s life and one for which we know we need to prepare. While many people have the desire to share their wishes, something is preventing people from openly communicating with their families.

As an important part of estate planning, you need to address healthcare decisions. This helps preserve your legacy and provide peace of mind for your loved ones. You can rest easy knowing that if they need to act, they are carrying out your end-of-life wishes as you would want.

If you’ve been dreading having this talk with your own parents, children or other family members, there are a number of steps you can consider.

Just Ask

Before launching into this tough conversation, it’s not a bad idea to pose the question “when?”  Ask your loved one when they might have time to discuss your estate planning and healthcare decisions. By introducing the topic in this matter, no one is caught off guard, and it can help everyone to reflect on what they really want to communicate before sitting down.

Aim for Clarity

 Do whatever you can to help make these conversations clear. Write out a list of major points you want to make ahead of time. Be prepared that your family may come with questions they want to ask—inclusion of family members in the decision-making process, preferences for memorials, and more. Simplicity and clarity can help neutralize the feelings of anxiety that everyone may be having and help everyone walk away from the conversation with peace of mind.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

This is a tough one. It’s quite likely that no one really wants to talk about end-of-life issues or would rather talk about something else. But you’ve got to get through it. So even though the conversation will no doubt be rife with opportunity to reflect, remember, and opine, try to stay on task. You want to make sure that everyone walks away from the conversation with a better understanding than when it began.

Keep the Conversation Going

While it may feel like a one-time conversation because it’s emotional, or hard to have if your loved one lives far away, remember that it’s not a one-time deal. You are simply opening the lines of conversation, not setting anything in stone. Remembering this will help empower everyone to be open. Talking about your end-of-life decisions can be hard, but it’s an essential part of estate planning.

We Are Here to Help

For our EstateCare Members, we are available any time to conduct a family meeting or phone call with you. We can review the overall structure of your plan, outline the various fiduciary roles and who you’ve appointed in each role, facilitate a conversation about your healthcare wishes (including end-of-life medical care), and answer any questions your family or chosen fiduciaries may have. If you have any further questions about how to have these conversations or would like us to help facilitate this discussion, please feel free to contact me. We are always here to help.