Estate Planning for the Heart: When to Have “The Conversation” with Your Loved Ones

Estate Planning for the Heart: When to Have “The Conversation” with Your Loved Ones

Home > Blog > Estate Planning for the Heart: When to Have “The Conversation” with Your Loved Ones

Are you sitting down? I’ve got some bad news. We’re all going to die.

Yes, we all know we’re mortal. Yet somehow, most of us would rather talk about almost anything aside from death and dying – especially the more emotional aspects of the topic.

“We seem to be okay discussing the practical matters associated with death,” says Cory Shaw, executive director of Weinstein Hospice. “We plan meticulously with estate lawyers and financial planners, but why aren’t we talking with our own families to help guide decisions about what matters most to us as we approach the end of life?”

The Facts
According to a national survey conducted by The Conversation Project, an organization dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care, 90% of respondents said that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important. Yet, only 27% have actually done .

That’s why Jewish Home Life Communities’ and Weinstein Hospice are teaming up with The Conversation Project for the next London Family AgeSmart Lecture on Sunday, October 21 at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. Attendees will learn more about how to make sure their wishes – and those of their loved ones – are expressed and respected.

Give Your Family a Gift
Starting these conversations can be awkward, but people find it actually brings families closer. It allows them to understand what their loved ones want and makes it less stressful for the person who has to make those difficult decisions on someone else’s behalf.

“I like to think of these conversations as gifts,” says Cory. “It’s about connecting and sharing your values. It’s just a very loving thing to do.”

During these discussions you will learn more about family members’ concerns, priorities and values around dying. You may find out your mom prefers quality of life over quantity or your brother would prefer to die at home rather than in a hospital.

The information gleaned from these conversations serve as emotional precursors or supplements of sorts to Advance Directives, also known as a Living Wills, and designating a health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health care. While these are two important legal documents, they can’t cover every eventuality.

Don’t wait
So when is the best time to sit down to have “The Conversation?” In short, the answer is now – and later.

When loved ones are in good health, some people may feel it’s too soon to discuss end-of-life matters. Adult children don’t want their parents to think they are giving up on them. The older parent fears the subject of their death will unnecessarily upset their family. Others feel as if talking about dying will make it happen. As Pulitzer prize-winning writer and founder of The Conversation Project Ellen Goodman says, “It’s always too soon until it’s too late.”

“This is not an end-of-life discussion,” says Cory.  “In hospice, we have these conversations with families every day, but it’s pretty late in game.”

And, peoples’ desires may change as they age. “The earlier and more often you have these conversations the better,” Cory adds. “It’s a beautiful legacy we can leave each other.”

Join JHLC and Weinstein Hospice for our free hands-on workshop that gives you the tools to start The Conversation
Sunday, October 21st at 10:00am at the MJCCA.

RSVP today by clicking here