Getting older is just a part of life. As you get older, so do your parents. Eventually, your parents might start needing help. While many children tend to think that the most awkward conversation they have with their parents is about the birds and the bees, having to talk about aging and death can be pretty awkward as well. Still, it is a crucial conversation to have.
Begin the Conversations Early
Starting the conversation about getting older and death is never easy, especially when you’re talking to those closest to you. Despite the awkwardness, many families actually report that they felt relief after getting the talks started. The earlier you start, however, the better. It’s important to understand what your parents’ wishes are during a time when they are still able to make decisions, rather than having a bunch of confusion later on when they might not be able to speak for themselves. There also doesn’t have to be just one conversation. In fact, it might be better, and easier, to have many over time. It is important that you don’t bombard your parents and that you don’t make it seem like you’re ganging up on them. It’s okay to have a short discussion and then try again later.
Dealing with the Estate
If your parents don’t already have a will, it is important that they have one drawn up. A will is a legal document that states the future of their essential possessions. This doesn’t just mean money and land. It also includes things such as personal possessions like the antique china as well as any pets that your parents might have. Unfortunately, your parents simply telling you what they want to give you and other family members is not enough. Without a will, the estate goes to probate court, where a judge makes the call about who gets what. This could take months and cost thousands. Unfortunately, verbal statements won’t hold up in court. Having an attorney draw up a will usually only takes a couple of sessions. If you have a very simple estate, it can even be done with online software.
Talking about Their Wishes
As your parents get older, they might start to have difficulty doing basic things, whether it’s getting up and down the stairs, cooking meals, or getting dressed. As this happens, help becomes necessary. But just how do you go about getting the type of help your parents want? Many people prefer to stay in their own home. If you, or siblings, are unable to go visit your parents every day to help them with the things they need, or you can’t have your parents move in with you, there are other things that can be done. One option is an in-home care assistant. This person visits your parents every day and provides them with the help they need. If your parents are willing to move, another option to consider is an assisted living community. For these options, it may be a good idea to look into long-term care insurance, which will help your parents, and you, afford the costs.
In addition to making sure that your parents have the help they need, it’s also important to know their wishes regarding end of life medical care. Having a power of attorney or a medical proxy will help you to more easily become a part of your parents’ medical care team and will help you to make their decisions for them if they are unable to make them for themselves.
Also an important part of knowing your parents’ wishes is knowing what they want after their death. Do they want to be buried somewhere specific? Would they prefer to be cremated and have their ashes spread somewhere special? Do they want anything specific for their funeral or memorial service? In addition to knowing exactly what your parents want, it’s also important to know how you are going to go about paying or it all. Funerals are a major expense, costing on average between $7,000 and $10,000. If there are no savings set aside to cover these costs, it is a good idea to take out a burial insurance policy. Burial insurance is specifically designed to cover the costs of a funeral as well as any debts that are left behind after death. Having a policy in place for your parents can help to lessen the financial blow and make things easier when you are already going through such an emotional time.
You might not want to think about a time when your parents will start to need help and when they will no longer be around. Chances are, neither do they. Having these conversations is important, though, for making sure your parents’ wishes are met and so that you are better prepared to handle the time when it comes.