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How to talk about death and dying with your family

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2024 | Estate Planning

End-of-life planning can be very complicated, and the conversations you need to have with your family can be hard to start – but those conversations are an essential part of aging.

By talking about (your) death and what you envision as your ideal before, during and after the process, you can give your loved ones a greater sense of surety about your desires.

Pick the right time and place

Family gatherings bring everybody together at once, so that can seem like a convenient time to start these conversations – but they’re not. If you bring up the topic unexpectedly, you may get startled reactions instead of calm, considered responses. It’s far better to tell your loved ones in advance that you want to have these discussions and set aside some time just for that purpose.

Make your intentions clear

Whether you do it in person or you send out an email, let your loved ones know that this conversation isn’t just about “who will get what” in your will (although that may also be addressed), but also about other critical matters, such as what sort of end-of-life medical interventions you do and do not want to be subjected to if necessary, and who you want to make any big decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them for yourself.

Accept that this is an emotional issue

While your conversation will need to focus on logistics (like who you want to hold your power of attorney) and practical concerns (like how you plan to divide your estate amongst your beneficiaries), it is still important to recognize that this is a very emotional conversation for those who love you. If emotions get too intense, it’s okay to table some of the conversation for later.

Good estate planning can help make certain that you – and your loved ones – have a secure future. As such, it’s important to be proactive about it, even when doing so is uncomfortable.