Discussing your final plans with your family may not be an easy conversation, but pre-planning can encourage family unity and be an important step in protecting your family after you are gone. Realizing that one day you will no longer be here is a meaningful life moment and provides you the perfect opportunity to start a discussion with your family about your final preferences, plans, and family legacy.

Ease into the conversation

How you start the conversation around your final plans should fit your unique communication style and relationships you’ve established with your family. Only you know what communication style is best for you. For some, this may be a frank and practical conversation that focuses on the specific planning aspects. For others, the discussion may focus more on the personal story, wishes, and the legacy the person would like to leave behind. Whatever the case may be, committing to having a conversation and setting aside the time to speak to your family is an essential first step.

Here are a few easy tips to help you get the conversation started:

  • Select a comfortable place for you and your family where you can have a meaningful and open dialogue
  • Don’t worry about having the perfect conversation; just start talking and let the conversation unfold naturally
  • To help kick off the conversation, use family photos or other family heirlooms to help your family connect around shared memories
  • Use questions to engage your family in the discussion and help them to think about why the conversation is important to have. Try starting with open-ended questions: “Have you ever thought about what our family plan will be when I pass?” and “What do you think is most important to me when it comes to my final plans?”

Establish a goal for your conversation

To ensure that you have a goal in place, take the time to research and explore your pre-planning options:

  • Consider what type of end of life care you would want
  • Decide on your funeral preferences
  • Establish a budget for your final plans and how you'll finance your funeral
  • Decide on whom you’d like to be in charge of your final plans

Tell your family why you’ve made these decisions

Finally, consider sharing with your family why you've made the decisions you have. Understanding your perspective can help your family to process the emotions and issues that inevitably surface when pre-planning. Some common decision themes to consider include:

  • Pre-planning ensures the planning process does not burden your family
  • Pre-planning allows you to take an active role in your final plans
  • Pre-planning makes sure you’re celebrated in a way you want to be remembered, and your family can participate without any undue and added stress

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