Summer is upon us, and often that means travel. For some, this means going up north to see family or having loved ones visit you. It always amazes me that here in Central West Florida our summer swell of tourists is just about as large a number as the winter crowd!
When our clients are visiting family and friends, we encourage them to have a few conversations. No matter if you’re the elder or younger relative, here are a few topics you might want to approach with your loved ones:
- If something terrible happens and I’m not expected to survive, this is what I would want you to do. While this recommendation is primarily for your health care surrogate, it would also help those who might have an opinion but lack the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. One of the most painful honors in life is to be named the “end of life” decision-maker for a loved one. Even with documents in place (which I hope you have), those left in charge may be confused and at a loss. We have learned that while spouses often have this discussion with each other, they rarely include children, nieces, nephews, or other potential decision-makers. Be kind to the people you designated by having this conversation with them. By clearly stating your wishes, you can alleviate any existing and future anxieties. These conversations can be difficult but extremely important to that person later on.
- I wish I knew if my family wanted any of my things. Which of my personal belongings would you want? With the many changes of manufacturing in our country, people no longer collect heirlooms like they did a mere generation ago. One of the fastest-growing businesses in the U.S. is storage facilities. People pack away tons of stuff only to discard most of it later. It would be terrible to hang on to all your personal things, only to learn at 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.
- If I were to die unexpectedly, what do you wish I had told you? My mother died suddenly at 59 years old and, as one would expect, I had many questions I wished I had asked. But even after my father passed away after a long decline at 91, there were still 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, and more. 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 the conversation.
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 blog post and share it with them?
By, April Hill
Do you have questions about your end-of-life plans? Contact the estate and Medicaid planning attorneys at Hill & Kinsella by calling (727) 240-2350. We can listen to your story and help you develop an estate plan that gives you peace of mind.