Are you dreading having the much-need conversation with your parents regarding their end-of-life wishes? You are not alone. This is a painful and difficult conversation for many people.

What you may not realize is that many older adults want to be asked about their final wishes. They may also like assistance with finding resources on how to create a will or trust. They may also need help finding online resources on how to pre-plan for their funerals.

Here are some tips on how to talk to parents about end-of-life wishes. We will give you ideas on how to broach these complicated conversation topics and provide you with a list of questions to ask your parents before they die.

1. Get help from your siblings.

Ask your siblings for help with this discussion about your parent’s final wishes. Even if they want to bury their heads in the sand on the subject of your parent’s mortality, remind them that you will all be responsible for planning for a funeral someday. It’s better to approach this process with your parent’s preferences than guessing what those wishes were after your parent’s death.

Talk with your siblings about the best approach for starting this conversation with your parents. Do you all agree that the best course of action is to set up a formal family meeting? Or do you know that your parents would respond better to a discussion that seemed more “off the cuff” and casual?

The personalities and knowledge of your parents and siblings may determine the best course of action for broaching the topic.

Some people are reluctant to disclose what they may feel is their private financial or health information, even with their children. If you find that your parent(s) are resistant to having this conversation about their final wishes, use these talking points to encourage them to share.

  • “We want to be able to fulfill your final wishes. We can’t do it if we don’t know what they are.”
    “We don’t want to have to pay lawyers to sort through the details of your estate.”
    “We’re worried that making these decisions after you die will cause arguments among the family members.”
    “Making your own end-of-life plans is one of the best gifts you can give to us.”

2. Ask all of the hard questions and take notes.

Here is some of the information you need to gather to help your parents complete their end-of-life plans. Start by obtaining general information before you ask your parents to focus on the details of their plan.

Questions About Money

  • Do you have enough savings to retire comfortably?
  • Do you have adequate health insurance? Do you have long-term care insurance?
  • Do you have a will or trust? Where is it located? Who is the executor? Who is your lawyer?
  • Do you have a life insurance policy? Where are the details of the policy?
  • Can one of us be given a power of attorney for financial matters?
  • What debts do you have? Where are those documents located?
  • Where can we find details regarding your financial assets?

Other End-of-Life Questions

  • Who is your healthcare power of attorney?
  • Have you made your end-of-life care decisions? Are those decisions documented?
  • Have you made your funeral arrangements?
  • Would you like to be cremated or buried?
  • Where would you like to have your remains rest for eternity?

We know this list of questions seems overwhelming, but once you know your parent’s final wishes and have gathered information, you’ll have an easier time with the next step.

3. Turn your parent’s end-of-life wishes into formal documents and pre-purchased funeral plans.

Once your parents have begun to think about their preferences, you may need to nudge them to follow through with the estate-planning process. In fact, you may need to attend appointments with them, depending on their capabilities and comfort level.

Reach out to a local attorney who is knowledgeable about estate planning. If you live in the Delaware Valley and greater Philadelphia area, contact Philadelphia Cremation Society to learn more about pre-planning for your loved one’s funeral.

4. Assist your parents in creating an organized file box with all the pertinent financial and funeral information.

When you lose a loved one, you may find it challenging to organize your thoughts and make decisions. That’s why you should consider creating an organized space with all of your parent’s financial information and end-of-life wishes. Having all the related documents in one place will be extremely helpful when the time of death comes.

5. Let Philadelphia Cremation Society help have an end-of-life discussion with your parents.

If you find the process too difficult, consider reaching out to an end-of-life expert at Philadelphia Cremation Society. We will walk your parents through the process of funeral planning.

The Philadelphia Cremation Society provides a needed service, and we do it with compassion, patience, and understanding. We will do everything in our power to make the pre-planning of your loved one’s funeral go smoothly.

If you need immediate assistance, call 610-632-1191, or fill out this online contact form and request “immediate help.” Our staff is ready to help, no matter what time it is. Now offering support in select areas of New Jersey and Delaware.