Three Things to Discuss with Elders During Visits
While Covid-19 crisis is upon us, you may end up talking on the phone or video chatting with your elders more. then ever. You may even visit and spend more time with them than you normally would. These are difficult conversations but having them can give people peace of mind.
What Would You Want Me to do For You?• Have you ever said to someone, "If something terrible happened and I wasn’t expected to survive, here is what I would want you to do." As an estate planning attorney I can draft excellent documents with my client's directions, but I always encourage them to speak openly with their agents. One of the most painful honors in life is to be named the end of life decision maker for a loved one. We have learned that while spouses often have this discussion with each other, rarely do they include children, nieces, nephews or other decision makers. Be kind to the people you designated by having a conversation with them. Let them know your wishes. These conversations can be difficult but extremely important to that person later on. And, if your wishes are different than what you have in your estate documents, see your attorney to get them updated.
What Will You Wish I told You?• If I were to die unexpectedly, what do you wish I had told you? My mother died suddenly at 59 years old and, as would be expected, I had many questions I wished I had asked. But even after my father passed away after a long decline at 91, there were questions I wished I had asked of him. People often think there will be another day, another opportunity to ask questions about their loved ones, family history, values, health or other things. For some there is an “elephant in the room” topic that needs to be discussed and hopefully settled. It only takes one person to start that conversation.
Conversations like these, along with a good estate plan, can help avoid family conflict afterwards.
Do You Want My Things?• With the many changes of manufacturing in our country, people no longer collect heirlooms like they did only one generation ago. One of the fastest growing businesses in the US is storage facilities. People pack away tons of stuff only to discard later. It would be terrible to hang on to all your personal things, only to find out close to the end of your life that your family never wanted them in the first place. The best way to learn their wishes is to ask. And ask more than once. Survivors sometimes feel bad about getting rid of unwanted "stuff" leaving that task to slow down the probate process.
You Can Do it!Many people, both older and younger tell us they don’t know how to have some of these difficult life conversations. We understand. But we also know the great relief people feel when they have been able to open the door of communication. If you want to begin a conversation like this and don’t know how, why don’t you print out a copy of this article and share it with them?