Last week I shared the first part of this article on how to discuss estate planning with aging (or sick) loved ones.
If you didn’t read it yet, you can do so here: How to Discuss Estate Planning With Aging (or Sick) Loved Ones – Part 1.
Believe it or not, the holidays can be a great time to discuss these issues with family, and the more prepared you are for that discussion, the easier it will be.
The bottom line is this: ask the right questions and then listen deeply. This may be a difficult topic for your loved one to even think about let alone discuss, so make sure your approach comes from a place of love and concern rather than one of advice and directions. Remember, this is all about your loved one’s wishes so stay open to truly hearing what he or she wants.
Ask your loved one what role they would like you to take, rather than assuming anything. And reassure your loved one that you have no expectations, but that you will be involved as much or as little as he or she desires.
If you need support with the right questions to ask, check out the Conversation Project. Their Conversation Starter Kit, available for free on their website, has a series of questions that you can use to begin the conversation about end of life care with your loved one.
Be ready to answer questions, but try to keep your answers neutral and objective. You can earn trust and good will by withholding judgment, not pushing an agenda, and simply being supportive. If your loved one hasn’t thought about estate planning, make sure you can help him or her think through important decisions about their powers of attorney, medical directives, and end of life wishes.
It is critical to discuss these things with your loved one before it’s too late. If your loved one becomes incapacitated or dies before you understand his or her wishes, it will be challenging to ensure their choices, and the management of their estate will be handled the way they would have wanted. And of course, without any planning, you are likely – and unnecessarily – to end up in Court.
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