Our previous post shared some best practices for making the holidays a more joyous time for all family members, including elders.
The holidays can also be a good time to initiate conversations with loved ones about difficult topics, one of which is end of life wishes.
Encouraging your loved one, not only to speak to you, but to speak to all family members about his/her wishes so that everyone is on the same page can minimize your stress down the road.
These end of life wishes may include: Who should make the decisions regarding health care/financial matters when your loved one cannot? What medical treatments are acceptable? What are not? Whether or not your loved one wants to be resuscitated? Where your loved one wants to be in the event of a terminal illness?
Ensure that your loved one executes a health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney. If he/she already has these documents, they should be reviewed by an elder law attorney to ensure that they are in order.
How does your loved one want his or her assets to be distributed after death? Are the assets titled appropriately? Have steps been taken to minimize probate upon death? Are they consistent with your loved one’s wishes? What is important to your loved one? Simplicity? Protecting his/her spouse? Providing an inheritance for children? Protecting a special needs beneficiary? Other concerns?
Questions relating to end of life topics can also be initiated by an elder law attorney. We find that good communication can often alleviate conflict and make planning easier for all involved.