No one feels immediately comfortable talking about or planning for the end of their life, but doing so is a necessary part of ensuring family members, friends, and loved ones are ready for the inevitable. End of life planning is a complex topic that should not be taken lightly. It requires a delicate dance around subjects and an understanding of the why behind it. Having the right tools at your disposal to start the discussion and create a viable and realistic plan is beneficial in getting through end of life planning with ease and grace.
Starting the Discussion
The reason many people fail to have open and honest discussions about end of life planning revolves around the discomfort that comes with talking about one’s mortality. It can be an emotional conversation, whether initiated from a parent, an adult child, or a close friend or family member. Most are concerned with upsetting the other parties involved, and others feel as though planning is not a necessary topic to discuss. However, many benefits can come from starting the discussion and ultimately establishing a plan for the passing of a loved one. Focusing on the following benefits can help spark the discussion:
- Having more control over the process when someone passes away
- Gaining an understanding of a loved one’s wishes
- Getting family members involved and engaged in the process
- Minimising stress and confusion when death takes place
- Having a sound plan for who will manage the process, how assets will be distributed, and care planning if needed.
Beginning the conversation about end of life planning focused on these advantages can be helpful, but many people are still unsure how to position the discussion. Some experts suggest that starting through natural conversation is best. Share that a family member recently went through the process of getting their life insurance put in place, and that prompted a discussion about a loved one’s coverage. Mentioning a recent article about end of life care, financial planning, or health challenges may also encourage a similar discussion.
Managing Legal and Financial Matters
Once the conversation surrounding end of life planning begins, it is necessary to know what the end goal is for the parties involved. Having a brief checklist can help on this front. Start with legal and financial matters that impact both the loved on needing end of life planning and the family members who would be affected if a plan was not in place. On the legal side of the line, this may include having specific documentation about a person’s final wishes for funeral or burial services, as well as a discussion about who will manage the process when the time comes.
From a financial perspective, an insurance specialist from Money Pug, a site used to compare life insurance, having the right coverage in place can help ease the burdens associated with end of life issues. Life insurance can pay for funeral and burial expenses, as well as any fees that may come from managing the distribution of someone’s estate. In addition to life insurance, financial discussions about end of life planning should be focused on how remaining assets should be transferred to heirs. Family members who are preparing for the end of life can document their wishes and share those with a loved one to help ease the process.
Understanding Care Options
End of life planning is not just about someone passing away. The process also involves talking through care options before a loved one’s time is up. Having a plan in place, based on the desires of the family member, for future care needs is essential to reduce stress among all parties involved. An end of life care plan may include an advance statement which dictates any religious or spiritual beliefs that should be considered in care. It also directs where care should take place, such as in the home or a hospice. A care plan may also include legal documents such as a power of attorney, used to give an individual authority to make decisions or conduct transactions on your behalf.
End of life planning is never an easy task, but it is less burdensome and uncomfortable when family members and loved ones are open about the care they want or need, their financial picture, and their desires for the end of their life. Approaching the subject with gentleness and understanding can make the process less daunting, and it often leads to an end of life plan that encompasses what loved ones want.