Opening the door to this difficult discussion may give your parents some peace of mind, as they'll know they were able to help you understand their wishes and spare you the stress of having to make those tough decisions on your own. They'll also take comfort knowing their wishes will be followed.
You will be very appreciative after they pass away for the opportunity you had to ask them the questions that will help you to understand their estate and their wishes.
The Huffington Post's recent article, "What Your Aging Parent Isn't Telling You – I Want to Discuss End-of-Life Issues," offers three tips to help you decide whether it's the right time to discuss end-of-life issues with your parent:
- Spot the clues. Mentioning that your parent wants to pay for his or her funeral in advance may mean he or she wants to talk about end-of-life issues. Your parent may take great comfort in having you fully aware of his or her plans. So if your parent is casually mentioning these subjects, ask if he or she wants to set a time to go over his or her will, discuss his or her thoughts on medical care and talk about other estate planning matters.
- Pick a good time to talk. This dialog can be difficult. You should have enough time to cover everything your parent wants to cover. Remember, the most important thing is to have this discussion as soon as you can, as illness and accidents strike without warning. Understanding your parents' wishes while they are around will be easier than relying on paperwork or risking the possibility they may be too ill to convey their wishes.
- They're your parents' wishes, not yours. Most of us will have our own preferences when it comes to these topics, but it's important to remember that your parents' wishes might be different than yours. If your parents are well enough mentally and physically to make sound decisions, then you'll need to accept and respect those plans.
Talking about funerals and wills can be uncomfortable, but the downside of not having these conversations is much worse.
Reference: Huffington Post (February 29, 2016) "What Your Aging Parent Isn't Telling You – I Want to Discuss End-of-Life Issues"