Adult Daughter and Parent in discussion

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Your Guide to End of Life Planning

End of life planning is a difficult conversation to have. Whether you’re broaching the subject with your parents, your spouse, or somebody else, thinking about care preferences or final days often brings up emotions we’d rather not face.

However, it’s important to have these conversations sooner rather than later so you won’t feel stressed about logistics during the final days of yourself or a loved one.

In this blog post, you’ll learn more about long-term care insurance, and find tips and conversation starters that can help make overall end of life planning a little easier.

What’s Included in End of Life Planning? 

There are multiple factors to consider when it comes to end of life planning. Here are some of the topics and questions you’ll want to address:

  • Is my will updated? Who is my executor? What are my assets?
  • How will my family and pets be taken care of after I pass away?
  • How would I like to be cared for if I can no longer take care of myself? If I’d like to be in a nursing home or assisted living facility, which one?
  • How can I financially prepare for long term care?
  • Where would I like to be buried? Do I prefer cremation?
  • Would there come a time when I would consider terminating treatment?
  • Am I willing to be an organ donor?
  • Do I have a power of attorney?

If you are helping someone else (such as an aging parent) with their end of life planning, make sure you clarify:

  • Where important documents are stored
  • Who they would like to make decisions about their care if they cannot
  • Whether their estate plan is finalized

Once all of the necessary decisions have been made, you can spell out your end of life plan in your estate plan.

What Is Long-Term Care?

Seven out of 10 people worldwide need long-term care, and by 2050, 27 million people are projected to be using long-term care services. So this is an important consideration of your planning. Long-term care provides assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Depending on your situation, you can either receive this care in a facility like a nursing home, or in your own home.

Long-term care (LTC) insurance covers part or all of the cost for long-term care. Since Medicare, Medicaid, and most health insurance plans don’t cover long-term costs, LTC insurance is a helpful way to reduce the cost of care received for longer than 12 months. It’s a good option for people who would like to stay in their home while protecting their retirement savings.

Starting the Conversation

Talking about long-term care and the end of life can be uncomfortable, awkward, and sad. If you don’t know how to find the “right time” for this discussion, use one of these ideas to get the conversation going.

Pick Your People

Decide who needs to be present for this conversation. If you are talking with your parents about their wishes, you may want your siblings to be present, too. For yourself and/or your spouse, your children will likely need to be in the room. However, family dynamics can be tricky, and it’s okay if you prefer one person over another when it comes to end of life planning. This is not a topic to be taken lightly and you should be comfortable with every decision.

Include A Third Party

In some cases, it may be helpful to expand the conversation to non-family members who can provide expert insight and help smooth over any conflict. For example, keep your financial advisor in the loop of all financial decisions, or bring your family to a doctor’s appointment with you so your doctor can offer advice on long-term care.

Write It Down

Prepare for the conversation by brainstorming everything you’d like to cover ahead of time. Write down or type out notes that you can have on hand to refer back to if you get off track. At the end of the discussion, you’ll also make things legal by putting end of life wishes in your estate plan.

Keep It Going

Talking about end of life wishes isn’t a one-time conversation. Keeping an open dialogue allows everyone to become more comfortable with the topic at hand. And it’s okay if you find that your preferences change as you continue to age.

How to Make End of Life Planning as Smooth as Possible

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind during your conversation:

  • Make eye contact
  • Be kind and respectful
  • Stick to the facts; don’t get bogged down in emotions
  • Ask and answer questions to make sure everyone is on the same page

You may find that you need to hold an initial conversation where you bring up end of life topics; take a break and give everyone a little time to process; and then reconvene to make final decisions.

What Happens Next

Make sure you or your loved one’s wishes are carried out as desired by stating them in your estate plan. This makes your preferences clear and legal.

If you anticipate needing help covering the cost of long-term care, contact us to speak with a Bankers Life agent. Our representatives are happy to help you understand your options and guide you toward what’s best for you.

Bankers Life is a private company that is not Medicare, Medicaid or MaineCare and is not a governmental agency