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10 Tips on Approaching Difficult Conversations: Disability, Death, and Estate Planning

Posted by Scott Lynett, Esq. | Oct 06, 2023 | 1 Comment

My Grandfather, I called him “Papa”, was a brilliant man. A veteran of World War 2, he built a successful medical practice and was an astute investor. Although he faced death on a regular basis as a physician, he could not face his own mortality. Like many of us, Papa was extremely uncomfortable talking about his own disability or death. When he suffered a debilitating stroke, his affairs were not in good order. Since he lost his power of speech after the stroke, we were forced to make difficult choices without fully understanding his wishes. Papa's failure to discuss and plan ahead for his disability and eventual death cost us emotional pain and financial loss. All of this pain could have easily been avoided with a conversation that, unfortunately, never occurred.

Life is full of unpredictable twists and turns, and while you can't always anticipate or control what happens, you can certainly prepare. Planning for the future, particularly when it involves difficult subjects like disability, death, and estate planning, can be emotionally challenging. However, it's vital to have these conversations with your loved ones to ensure clarity, preparedness, and peace of mind. Here's a guide on how to approach these sensitive topics with your family:

  1. Choose the Right Time and Setting

Initiating such serious discussions can be daunting. Start by selecting a comfortable, private environment where all participants feel at ease. Ideally, choose a time when everyone is relaxed and free from immediate stress or distractions. This isn't a chat to rush through during a commercial break; it needs time and undivided attention.

  1. Be Transparent about Intentions

Begin the conversation by expressing your concerns and intentions. For instance, "I've been thinking about the future and want to ensure that everyone's wishes and needs are taken into account." This is an emotional topic for your family, so don't be afraid to acknowledge the emotions in the room. Framing the conversation around love, care, and forward-thinking can help reduce defensiveness or anxiety.

  1. Start with Personal Reflections

Personal stories or reflections can ease into the broader conversation. Share your feelings, experiences, or even something you read or watched that made you think about these topics. If you ever experienced a loved one becoming disabled or dying, share that story and how it made you feel. It helps to make the discussion feel more immediate and relatable.

  1. Emphasize the Importance of Preparation

While topics like disability and death are uncomfortable, they're also inevitable. Emphasize the importance of being prepared rather than being caught off guard. Estate planning, in particular, isn't about being morbid—it's about ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of and that your wishes are honored. Remember, your estate plan isn't really about you. A well-thought-out estate plan is a gift to the people you love that will help them in one of the darkest and most difficult times of their lives.

  1. Be Open and Listen Actively

While it's essential to voice your thoughts and concerns, it's equally crucial to listen. Everyone has their own feelings, opinions, and fears about these topics. Active listening involves not only hearing but also understanding and validating these feelings. Not everyone will agree on every topic. Respect differences in opinions and seek common ground.

  1. Educate and Share Information

Often, the fear of the unknown is what makes these topics so unnerving. Equip yourself with knowledge about disability rights, the intricacies of estate planning, and end-of-life care options. The more you know, the better you can dispel myths, address concerns, and guide the conversation constructively. The Law Office of Scott Lynett, Esq. can provide you with the education and materials you need to understand your options and make the best choices for your family.

  1. Encourage Professional Guidance

Estate planning, in particular, can be complex. It's advisable to consult professionals such as the team at The Law Office of Scott Lynett, Esq. We can offer you and your family clarity on wills, trusts, powers of attorney, tax-saving strategies, wealth preservation and more. Encourage your family to see these professionals as valuable resources, not intimidating outsiders.

  1. Revisit the Conversation

One conversation might not cover everything, and that's okay. These are ongoing discussions that might need revisiting, especially when life circumstances change. Regular check-ins can help adjust plans and ensure everyone remains on the same page.

  1. Offer Emotional Support

Recognize that these topics can bring up strong emotions. Offer support, understanding, and patience. Depending on your family, it might be helpful to have resources available, such as therapists or counselors, who specialize in grief or end-of-life discussions. They can help your family members better understand decisions during these phases of life.

  1. Celebrate the Bravery

Lastly, commend everyone involved for their courage in addressing such challenging topics. It's a testament to the strength and love within your family that you're willing to face these subjects head-on. Many people don't and their families suffer in the long run.

In conclusion, while conversations about disability, death, and estate planning can be challenging, they're essential for everyone involved. Approaching them with care, love, and preparation can make all the difference. After all, these discussions aren't about dwelling on the uncertainties of the future, but about ensuring that we're all cared for, no matter what the future holds.

At The Law Office of Scott Lynett, we take the time to educate our clients and their families so that they can ensure that their families and their assets are protected in case of disability or death. Call 570-468-7603 or visit today to set up your free 15-minute consultation.

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Perry Reply

Posted Oct 13, 2023 at 07:00:39

Great article Scott, very insightful. I hope this response signs me up to recieve your nesletter.

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