One of my top priorities in serving my clients’ estate planning needs in Boulder, Colorado, is encouraging them to talk frankly and directly with close family members about not just their plans concerning the disposition of their financial assets, but about their plans, wishes and expectations for managing illness, disability, and death at the end of their lives.
There is little value in spending lots of time thinking about who in your life you want to charge with the heavy responsibility of making healthcare decisions for you, if you can’t make them yourself, if you haven’t made the effort to share with them your thoughts about what choices you would be inclined to make (and decline) for yourself. For many of us, the importance of open dialogue among family members about individual end of life preferences was clarified when going through the death of an elder parent. Either we were aided and comforted by the talks we had with our aging parents while they were able to effectively express themselves; or, like many families, the lack of previous conversations about loved ones’ advanced directives or wishes regarding remaining at home and/or practical planning about how to make that a reality, rendered us unsure and unable to effectively act on our elders’ behalf.
Don’t do this to your adult children. Most of us prefer to be in charge of the major events of our lives and our death should be no exception. Start the conversation. It doesn’t have to be maudlin or depressing; or even lengthy, drawn out, or complex. It should focus on the care and health interventions you want (and maybe don’t want) at the end of your life and making sure that there are people around you who are aware of your wishes, and have your authority and trust to execute them when the time comes.
For more information on how to start the conversation, go to theconversationproject.org