Talking about death is challenging for most people, but it’s particularly tough when talking with a loved one about their end-of-life arrangements. There are, however, certain conversations you should have to ensure they receive the care they need, that their final wishes are granted, and that their loved ones aren’t left with avoidable burdens.
The topic of making final arrangements is so important there is even a day in April dedicated to it, which serves as a reminder about the impact of advanced care planning. But, having these conversations is crucial when a loved one is facing death regardless of the time of year. There is no guidebook that can tell you how to approach your loved one about making end-of-life decisions. What is certain is that it should be done with compassion and a concern for their wishes both before and after their passing.
Your loved one will need to make decisions regarding their end-of-life care, estate planning, and even their funeral. If they have not done so already, they may wish to apply for burial or funeral insurance. Final expense insurance may be used to cover the funeral; any remaining balance can be set aside to settle unpaid debts or to offset expenses incurred by loved ones.
When there are assets to consider, including a home or life insurance, your loved one may also need to address how their estate will be settled. If you don’t already have it, ask for information regarding their bank accounts, investments, and outstanding debts. They will also need to compile a list of personal property in excess of $100, such as jewelry, electronics, lawn care equipment, tools, and antiques. Investopedia also suggests having a list of their memberships available as some organizations may provide limited insurance coverage to their member’s beneficiaries. However, before you make a decision regarding which life insurance policy to get, use a policy rate calculator to give you an idea of what you’ll pay.
If these issues are overwhelming or feel too complex to handle alone, it may be in everyone’s best interest to consult an elder law attorney. This is an individual or firm that specializes in legal matters specific to the elderly. They can help draft documents and create legal protections for both the elder and their heirs and loved ones. These services can be invaluable, especially if the senior is the caregiver of a minor grandchild.
Not all choices related to your loved one’s passing will be financial in nature. Discuss with them what sorts of information about themselves they would like passed on to their younger family members who may not remember them. If they are well enough, ask them to sit for a legacy video, which provides an opportunity to share their life story in their own words. They may have thoughts on Bible passages, songs, or quotes they would like recited at the memorial service or may wish to be interred in a nontraditional manner, such as via cremation or, as Modern Farmer explains, in a biodegradable urn that allows them to “live on” as the nutrients of a tree.
No matter when you decide to try and have this conversation, try to engage your loved one with open-ended questions. Listen and take note of their preferences and remember that now is not the time for judgment. If you are intimidated, nervous, or feel unprepared, find a support group in your area.
Death is an unpleasant subject. But, when it looms, your loved one will benefit from making their wishes known. Whether the decisions are financial or personal, there will be a time when it’s too late for them to choose. Empower them now by opening up the conversation and giving them a say in how they say goodbye.
Post written by Hazel Bridges