Originally posted on https://www.mylifeline.org/caregiving/updates/post/1561489
No matter what stage of life you are in, having an open and honest discussion about what needs to take place before a loved one passes away is never easy. However, doing the work to prepare for a loved one’s death is necessary to help reduce some of the stress that comes with the process. Whether you’ve experienced a family member or parent decline in health, or you are simply trying to put together a realistic plan for the future, end of life planning requires a delicate dance around several different topics. Focusing on the things which can be controlled, including final arrangements, finances, and who will manage the process, can make conversations about end of life planning easier on everyone involved.
One of the most important aspects of end of life planning is starting the conversation, but this requires some special care given the delicate subject. Adult children who are planning to speak to their aging parents about their end of life needs or desires can start by bringing up a topic which may easily lead into the discussion. For instance, sharing that a new life insurance policy was taken out to help provide for children or a spouse may spark a conversation about a parent’s life insurance cover. Similar results can come from bringing up estate planning documents, account beneficiaries, or recent medical treatment.
Regardless of the topic that opens the door to communication among children and parents, end of life planning is most beneficial when it is handled in an honest, caring way. Adult children should recognize that having the discussion may be uncomfortable or feel threatening for an older parent. Take the time to ease into the subject, and be patient if gathering information or details from a parent is not successful the first try.
Once the communication starts flowing about end of life planning, there are specific topics that warrant attention. First, a last will and testament is the legal document that provides a description and guidance for an individual’s wishes at death. Within a will, a person names an executor to ensure those desires are carried out, as well as beneficiaries to receive assets when the individual passes away. A will may also include details about what personal property is divided, and any special instructions for certain assets or pets.
Above and beyond a will, it is also necessary to discuss what assets are intended to be transferred to beneficiaries when a loved one dies. These could include pension or retirement accounts, savings or investment schemes, business assets, and real estate. Understanding where these assets are held, how they are titled, and an estimated amount eases the process of transferring balances at the end of one’s life.
Finally, an often overlooked aspect of end of life planning is insurance cover. According to a finance expert from Money Pug, a site used to find the best life insurance options, having adequate insurance coverage can be incredibly helpful in reducing the financial stress of paying for final expenses. Any remaining debts, funeral arrangements, and near-immediate benefits paid to beneficiaries can all be taken care of with the right life insurance policy. It is essential to discuss what coverage is in place, if any, and secure a policy if it is needed.
Although having the discussion about end of life planning is necessary among loved ones, when someone passes away, having a plan in place does not eliminate grief. The grieving process takes on many different forms, including feelings of emptiness, depression, fear, or anxiety. Many try to manage these overwhelming emotions on their own, but knowing there are bereavement professionals who can help during a time of sadness can make a world of difference.
Having an end of life plan in place takes away some of the stressors that come along with a loved one’s passing. Accounts can be transferred to their intended beneficiaries as the individual wished, and desires for final arrangements can be met when the discussion about end of life is had before its too late. Both adult children and aging parents can take the initiative to start the conversation with loved ones, knowing that doing so will ease an otherwise difficult time when it comes.
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