If we haven’t already, we need to make sure we’ve had “the talk” with our children by the time we reach retirement. This does not refer to the infamous sex talk we have with our children during their pre-teen stage, but about our end-of-life planning and final wishes. Both talks can be difficult, but for different reasons.
Some of us find the early sex talk embarrassing, while the end-of-life talk is difficult because we generally don’t like to think about our own death. We give our children the sex talk because we want them to be informed and make appropriate decisions.
That reasoning works for the end-of-life discussion, as well. Don’t put off educating your children on all there is to know about you. The more they know, the better the chances are that your final wishes will be realized.
Listed below are some of the basic topics to be discussed with your adult children during “the talk.”
Your children should know your basic personal information, such as date and place of birth, how many marriages, to whom and when, number of children with their dates of birth (and death, if applicable) from all marriages and your parents’ full names (including maiden name), their dates of birth and death. This information is usually required for completing a death certificate.
The list of assets should include vehicles, boats, RVs, real estate, bank and investment accounts, pensions and IRAs, and physical assets, such as cash on hand, jewelry, and collectibles.
Your children should also be informed of any debt you may owe, like mortgages, loans, and credit card balances. Be sure to advise your children of the location for all assets and liabilities.
If you have an interest in any business, advise your children about your percentage ownership, any other owners or shareholders, and who to contact in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Advise your children not only of any life insurance policies, but also of your primary health coverage, supplemental health insurance, cancer policies, prescription, disability, and long-term care insurance.
If you become incapacitated or have a long hospitalization prior to your death, this will be valuable information for your children. Again, it goes without saying that the location of the policies is necessary information.
Be sure to discuss your will and where it is located, along with any trusts, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney or living will, and other legal documents that you may have that would be needed upon your death or incapacitation.
Your children will need passwords to obtain some of the documents already mentioned, as well as to close any social media accounts after your passing.
Do you belong to any organizations that you would want mentioned in an obituary? Be sure to tell your adult children about any memberships so they can be noted in the obituary, but also so they can be contacted upon your death.
Give your children the names, addresses and phone numbers of attorneys, tax professionals, investment managers, business partners and clergy so they can contact them for advice, if needed.
Let your children know if you want a funeral, visitation, memorial service, burial or cremation, and any other details that are important to you for your final good-bye.
This is a lot of information that must be conveyed. To make this discussion easier, prepare all this information and file it in one place for your adult children.
It wasn’t until after my parents and grandparents had passed away that I got interested in genealogy and wished I had asked questions while they were alive. Give your children the opportunity to ask questions about you.
The entire end of life discussion may be a bit overwhelming for them and, therefore, they may not have questions of you at that time. If that’s the case, and you were one who did not share much about your life, use this time to tell them something about you that they may not know. It may inspire them to ask questions and want to know more.
If you don’t have a good relationship with your children, or are totally estranged, you still need to discuss the above information with someone. Tell a trusted friend, relative or professional the information that will make your final good-bye an easy one.
Have you talked with your adult children about what you want to happen to your assets, information and funeral after you die? If you have informed your children of your end of life decisions, how did the discussion go? If you do not have a good relationship, or are estranged from your children, have you passed on your final wishes, financial and personal information to a trusted individual? Please share in the comments below!
I enjoy your articles on life planning, and would like to discuss creating a kit for people to simplify their planning, using your techniques. I have not been able to contact you. Could you contact me?
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Our teaching hospital ( Oregon Health Science University) has a program that you can donate your body to. All needs are included including body transport, death certificate, and cremation. Your remains are used to save lives and to teach. Your cremated remains are designated by you to go to a specific member of your family or of your choosing. There is no charge for these services and your family will not have to make difficult decisions at a difficult time. Check with your local teaching hospital to see if they have a similar program and to see what their specifications are.