We all know that we need to plan for the future, but wanting to and actually doing it can be light years apart. It’s hard to face the cold, hard facts of what may happen and to make the tough decisions as to choosing an executor of your estate or investing in long term health insurance. Moreover, verbalizing your choices can cause conflict if your family is already turbulent and many times kids just may not want to face that you are getting older. Nevertheless, consider planning a family meeting so that no one will be in the dark when tough decisions need to be made.
About five years ago when my parents turned sixty is when we had our little round table discussion. My dad is a successful CPA and financial planner, so of course he would want all of his ducks in a row as he headed towards retirement. We had dinner and dessert as a family and then sent the grandchildren out of the room so the adults could talk. My dad stated that the executor of his estate and having power of attorney would be my sister since she has a business degree and her husband is also in the financial sector. My husband Vince would have final say in all medical decisions since he is a nurse and has medical experience. Next we were told the codes to the home safe, given certain documents for our own safe keeping, and my parents informed us that they had already made their final arrangements for cremation and had purchased urns.
By no means was this discussion easy. There was a lot of joking and laughing to ease the stress and to make it palatable. We also did not talk about specific numbers as to what they have in their bank accounts, who gets what, or anything else that wasn’t on a need to know basis.
Like I said, it’s been five years since that talk and we’ve had many mini discussions along the way. We’ve talked about the pros and cons of selling the too big family home and moving into a retirement community, encouraged them to travel and enjoy life as much as they can while they are both still active and healthy, and even broached the touchy subject of what to leave irresponsible family members. We even have made tentative plans as to what to do when one passes and where the other one would live. The most important thing is that we’ve talked! It’s an open and ongoing topic, but the road of communication is paved and when those difficult days ahead do unfortunately come, we will be financially and legally prepared.