“My Kids Don’t Like to Talk About It.”

This is a common refrain of my clients when we are talking about their estate plans and I suggest that they talk to their adult children. If they are naming their children as their agents, they should talk to them to make sure they are prepared for that role. They should let their children know the location of their important papers, where they do their banking, who their accountants or financial advisors are and other information that would be useful. I also encourage them to talk to their children about end of life care, and decisions that might need to be made if there is a medical crisis that needs to be dealt with.

This is when they let me know that their kids don’t like to talk about it. That’s ok and normal, but it isn’t a reason not to have the conversation. It’s completely possible to have a conversation about something while you are feeling physically uncomfortable about the subject matter.  You can even say “I know this topic is uncomfortable, and it makes my stomach flip around and it made you cry the last time we brought it up, but it’s important and I know we can get through it.” Sometimes just acknowledging the discomfort can help dissipate it.

Parents often have to have difficult conversations with their children at all stages of life – relaying news that a beloved dog has died, talking about a sick grandparent, discussing the facts of life and drugs and alcohol and so on. We all somehow managed to survive those conversations, and ended up better off for having them.

Likewise, talking about the possibility of a long term illness or the inevitable end of all of our lives can be uncomfortable or sad or awkward or terrifying, but it is still a conversation that needs to take place. Granted, your children aren’t your captive audience in the car on the way to the mall anymore, but you can still bring it up during a visit or phone call.

You’ll both feel better when it is done, and when the time comes that they need to help you – they will be very grateful you took the time to talk to them.

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