Initially, this was going to be a column encouraging you to help your parents get their final affairs in order.
April 15th is rolling around. You’ve heard the expression that you can’t avoid death and taxes. This would have been a good time to sit down with your parents to have a conversation. I was going to share a checklist I made called T.H.A.N.K.S.
If I had suggested you do this with your parents, it would have listed:
Talk- Have an actual sit-down conversation about what they want their end of life to look like: learn their wishes. You can read Jean’s original post here.
Health care power of attorney – Who will make their medical decisions when they can’t? People often assume that spouses and children can automatically do this: not anymore.
Answers – making a list about where they keep things, what accounts they have, what insurance policies are there, where is their will/trust (hopefully not in their safe deposit box), who is their lawyer?
Name a financial power of attorney – someone they trust to help with their finances. If their abilities fade, the tools would be there to continue paying their bills.
Kind of funeral – do you assume that they want to be buried? Open, closed? Cremated? Ask them. It would be nice to have a clue about what their wishes are.
Share – with the family. Don’t treat it like a taboo subject. It is life. I would have suggested that you ask your parents to include all siblings in the conversations so there are no surprises. One child shouldn’t be explaining what “Mom wanted”. Everyone should know what Mom wanted because it has been talked about.
All good ideas, right? If you’ve ever handled an estate, you know what a blessing it is to have these things done, so don’t you wish your parents would get it together?
That is what I was going to encourage you to do. But I changed my mind. Instead, today, let’s talk about you. What have YOU gotten done for your children?
It is time to have that heart-to-heart talk with your kids.
Pick a health care power of attorney. Get a form from your doctor’s office. Fill it in, discuss your wishes with your HCPOA and then get the signed form on file back with your doctor.
In addition to talking with your kids, write it all down. Make them a printed list of your answers to where things are so they can find the information when they need it.
Name a financial power of attorney and create a legal document.
Tell them a bit about what kind of funeral you would like.
Share with all the kids and talk. Keep the communication open.
And finally, be a role model. I’ll bet your children are adults themselves. Maybe you even have grandchildren. Ask your children what plans they have in place for their family.
It is true that we can’t avoid death and taxes, but with a little planning, no matter which generation you belong to, your family will say T.H.A.N.K.S.
By Jean Long Manteufel
Her book, Transitions – How to Help Mom and Dad with Their Stuff is available for purchase here or by clicking the book.