Knowing that your adult children understand your wishes and concerns about end-of-life decisions can be very freeing for you; as well as your adult children – after all you’ve eliminated the stress that comes from not knowing that you have a plan when the time comes for them to implement if. As an adult child who has yet to have ‘that tough talk’ with their parents, it might be illuminating for you to know that you should talk to mom first, or its only dad, let your sister begin the conversation. Experts agree that women are the best source of open dialogue, even when it comes to this touchy subject.
Nevertheless, this conversation is not one that you can have before everyone feels comfortable with the topic. After all, sharing financial information or sensitive health care issues is never easy and it does not good for anyone if parent or child is in denial of what is to come. Let’s examine some of the telltale signs that it might be time for such a discussion with your parent:
- Learn How to Spot the Clues. If your parent casually mentions their visit with the doctor, creating their estate plan, even offering where to find important documents, this might be your signal that they are ready to talk about these important end-of-life decisions. Ask if he or she wants to set a time to go over his or her will, discuss his or her thoughts on medical care and talk about other estate planning matters. They may confirm that now is the perfect time to discuss these matters.
- Choose Your Time Wisely. As difficult as this dialog can be, it will be all the more difficult if you attempt it in fits and starts. You should have enough time to cover everything your parent wants to share, in the manner they chose to share it with you. Remember, the most important thing is to have this discussion as soon as you can, as illness and accidents strike without warning. Understanding your parents' wishes while they are around to provide input will be easier than relying on an impersonal document or risking the possibility that when the time comes they are too ill to convey their wishes.
- Remember, this is Your Parents' Plan, Not Yours. Most of us will have our own preferences when it comes to these topics. What if your parents' wishes are diametrically opposed to your own? If your parents are well enough mentally and physically to make sound decisions, then you'll need to accept and respect those plans. If you can’t implement the plan because you do not agree with it, let that be known so that there are no issues later – it is their plan and anyone accepting responsibility for its implementation will have a fiduciary duty to abide by its terms.
While it obvious that there is nothing fun in talking about terminal illness, incapacity, and end-of-life issues, the only thing less fun is trying to guess at the plan or worse, having the court system impose their plan on us. We can help;; schedule your complimentary consultation today.
Reference: Huffington Post (February 29, 2016) "What Your Aging Parent Isn't Telling You – I Want to Discuss End-of-Life Issues" and MarketWatch (May 7, 2013) “In family-money talks, start with mom”