Preparation of a will is an essential task to accomplish for anyone nearing the end of life, and is even essential for those who just intend to be prepared for when that time comes. Still, it’s not always the easiest thing to think about or go through with.
For those of you taking care of elderly parents who are either reluctant to complete their wills or don’t see a point in it, or for those who just need help facing the prospect of the will or talking about the subject with elderly parents, these tips should be of some comfort to all involved, helping make the process simpler and turning the situation into a genuine benefit.
Why It Can Be Tricky
The first step in this process is understanding the complexities of exactly what’s going on and how it can be perceived.
If you’re in great shape, have been healthy your whole life, are still relatively young, and even have kids who aren’t yet grown, it’s likely you yourself haven’t given wills and estates much thought. This can be complicated a bit if there’s any sort of rift between siblings and/or parents, but in those cases taking care with this topic is exceptionally paramount.
Let’s consider for a moment what a will means as a sort of metaphor or symbol. If you haven’t thought much about it, or if you didn’t think much about it for most of your life, why didn’t you? Was it because you didn’t have possessions or loved ones to care for? Probably not. More likely it’s because there was no real prospect of your own mortality, or maybe there still isn’t. Considering the necessity of a will is considering the ending of your own life. To admit that you need to take care of your estate is to admit that you’re not in control: not in control of your health/longevity, and soon to not be in control of an estate you’ve worked for and accrued for your whole life.
What to Do With That
With that consideration in mind, put yourself in your parents’ place. It seems absurdly simple, but really think about it, and it’ll help you approach them about it. If you were getting ready to move on from this life and wanted to make sure your estate would be taken care of, what would be running through your mind?
Why It’s Important to Act Fast
If your parents are already in a poor mental state, this is imperative to do before they are too far gone to make rational decisions about their estate.
Even if your parents are of sound mind, it’s still important to talk to them about it sooner than later. If there is any chance of mortal incident, such as a high risk of heart attack or stroke, or a possibility of future onset of mental diseases like dementia, be sure to talk to them about it before those become issues. You don’t know how long they’ll be around or healthy for.
But beyond those factors, consider non-malignant or long-term issues as well, like cancer or illness. It’s no secret that with increased age comes greater susceptibility to numerous conditions, and you don’t want considering a will to be an added stressor. If there’s any chance of something like this (and really, there probably always is), you don’t want these hard decisions to be a burden in a difficult time. Stress does awful things for the body, and it’s important to have as few stressors as possible to help ensure recovery and continued health.
Having the Conversation
Finally, it’s time to consider what to do and say during the conversation.
Go back to the first section and be sure you fully understand the complexities of the situation that will be created with this rather macabre discussion. Now take in all considerations that are specific to your family and their individualities: your siblings, your parents’ siblings, their grandchildren, their health state, their sensitivities, their charitable propensities, etcetera.
Once you’re ready to talk to them about it, be sure to lay down from the outset (if they’re sensitive to the issue) that you know it’s not easy to think about a will, but it’s something that has to be done. Then appeal to their sense of responsibility, explaining why they owe it to their valuables and their family to do this well and think it through thoroughly.
They worked hard for the money they have, so they deserve to have it spent how they would want it spent foremost. Don’t let any of your ideals or preferences get in the way (as long as they’re being rational), as this is about them. Consider what would best be bestowed to whom and how it would be fairest for the estate to be split up.
Be sure to end by making sure they know this doesn’t mean they’re any closer to the end or that it’s an admission that they’re giving up or that anyone is more concerned about the estate than they are for the wellbeing of those enacting the will. It’s an act of necessity, not vanity.
Guest Post contributed by Michelle Johnson on behalf of Fulham Funerals – Adelaide Funerals. Â Michelle is a freelance writer and has a keen interest in travel, relationship. She has written various publications dealing with death, funerals and the grieving process.