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One of the toughest conversations you will have with your adult children is the need to put your affairs in order before the end of your life. You have had plenty of time to contemplate the whole subject of dying; your children, no matter how old they are, would prefer to think you are immortal.
Of course, you want to live with as much control and quality of life as possible, and that quality of life should extend to the very end. To ensure that it does, you need several important documents for end-of-life planning. Each of them has a specific purpose; together, they will set your mind at ease. It is better to have these documents in place before you are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
The most important document is your will, even if you don’t have a vast estate to distribute among your heirs. People who die without a will send their loved ones to court to navigate the probate process and deal with dividing up property while they’re still grieving
Advance directives, which are sometimes called a living will, spell out the measures you would like taken, or not taken, to prolong your life if you are terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia, or near the end of your life. Advance directives provide legal instructions to doctors regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Designating someone to have your power of attorney for healthcare is for a time when you may not be able to speak for yourself. At that point, you will need someone who knows your specific wishes regarding the kinds of lifesaving measures you do and do not want, whether you have signed a do-not-resuscitate (DNR), or want to be kept alive if that is possible.
When someone has just died, grieving family members must often think quickly about plans for funerals or memorial services. Sit down with one of your adult children to talk about the things that are important to you concerning your funeral, memorial service, and how your body is to be dealt with. That will save your family a lot of confusion.
The subject of your death can be hard for your children to talk about calmly and rationally. It might be difficult for you, as well, if you have not come to terms with your own mortality. So, how you approach the subject, honor your children’s feelings, and clearly express your own will make all the difference in how this important conversation goes.