How to Talk to Your Spouse and Other Loved Ones About Your Final Wishes
It’s never an easy discussion, but it’s a necessary one. The best way to ensure that your last wishes are honored when the time comes is to communicate them to your loved ones. Talking to your spouse, domestic partner, or other loved ones about your final wishes is never easy, but here are a few tips that might help.
Why It’s Important to Discuss Your Last Wishes
While you should lay out all of the details of your final wishes in your will, it’s important to also let your loved ones know about them. Talk to your partner or other loved ones and tell them exactly what you want when it comes to your medical care, funeral service, burial or cremation, and other end-of-life matters.
Having this difficult conversation will leave them better prepared to carry out your instructions. It will also help ease the burden of making difficult decisions like medical treatments or funeral planning. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss whether they are comfortable becoming your power of attorney agent or the executor of your estate.
How to Talk About Your Final Wishes with Your Loved Ones
1: Don’t Delay the Conversation
No one wants to talk about death, so it can be tempting to put this conversation off “until the time is right.” But sometimes that takes much too long. Life is unpredictable, so it’s crucial that you have this discussion sooner rather than later. To help you follow through with your plan, set a meeting in your calendar for a time when you and your loved ones are all free to sit down and talk together.
2: Approach the Subject Delicately
While there’s never a “right time” to discuss your final wishes, there can certainly be a wrong time. Choose an appropriate situation, make sure you have a clear head, and approach the subject carefully. The recent death of a celebrity or a relative can be a good way of bringing up the subject, as long as you know your loved ones aren’t sensitive to those specific passings.
It’s a good idea to ask permission before diving right into the subject. Forcing the conversation will only end in frustration. If your partner or loved ones deny their permission, give them some time. If reading about your final wishes is easier for them, you can offer them a copy of the important legal documents or write them a letter, and then discuss the matter together later on.
3: Keep the Conversation Two-Sided
When you do discuss your wishes, make sure to keep the conversation two-sided. Answer their questions and ask questions of your own. Voice any concerns you have when it comes to disability and emergency situations.
Long discussions can get emotional. It can help to have multiple follow-up conversations to cover every detail, involve everyone in the conversation, and make sure everyone remains comfortable.
4: Prepare for Emotional Reactions
Emotional reactions must be expected when the subject of death comes up, or in response to some of your specific wishes. Tears, defensive behavior, and denial are all normal responses. If your loved one gets upset, let them know that you hear their concerns and explain that you wish to discuss this subject because you love them. If they ask to end the conversation, do so.
You must expect other people to disagree with some of your wishes, even if they are close to you. For example, your spouse might disagree with your decision to be cremated. If this happens, ask them why they disagree and listen to their concerns. Breaking down why this decision is the right choice for you will help to ease some of their anxiety.
Estate Planning Services in Arizona
If you want your final wishes to be honored, it’s essential that you detail them in writing with a will. Creating a will is also helpful when you discuss your last wishes with your spouse and other loved ones.
The Phelps LaClair team has been assisting families in Mesa, Chandler, Phoenix, and the surrounding areas create and manage successful estate plans for over 40 years. If you would like to create a will or review your current one, call us at 480-892-2488 today to schedule a free consultation.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/17/2022). Photo by Justin Follis on Unsplash