Insurance and Finance

Guide to End-of-Life Conversations

By Haley Shapley 9.18.17

Talking about death can be difficult. But sometimes, having those hard conversations is the best way to make sure your loved ones are taken care of. It’s important to discuss what will happen when the time comes, whether you’re a parent hoping to provide for your family or you are trying to make sure your parents’ affairs are in order and their wishes are respected.

The Right Approach

How do you start this conversation? First, pick a private, quiet location where you won’t be distracted. Ask your loved ones for permission to have this talk. They may prefer having the chance to prepare beforehand, so they can think through their wants and needs or any questions they have. It might take a couple of tries before they’re ready. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recommends opening with something like this: “If you ever got sick, I would be afraid of not knowing the kind of care you would like. Could we talk about this now? I would feel better if we did.”

Necessary Documents

There are many end-of-life factors that need to be considered, including health care, funeral arrangements, and finances. Here are some of the documents that you and your lawyer should have in order: 

  • Advanced health care directive. This covers wishes for health care and designates someone to make medical decisions for you if you’re incapable.
  • Durable power of attorney. This allows someone to handle specific health, legal, and financial responsibilities, and remains valid and in effect even if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
  • Last will and testament. This details how and to whom you want your estate divided after your death.
  • Final arrangements. This specifies your wishes for arrangements after your death, such as burial, cremation, or organ donation.

Life and Death

One thing everyone should keep in mind about end-of-life issues — particularly while you’re younger — is life insurance. Alan Davidson, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agency Manager, says he’s had clients pass away who had life insurance and clients pass away who didn’t, and the resulting situations for the families were very different. While nothing makes the loss of life better, a life insurance policy can ease the financial burdens that surround losing someone.

“My father had a very small life insurance policy of $10,000, which was barely enough to cover a funeral,” Davidson says. “From that standpoint, I saw what that did for my mother — [now] my siblings and I all help take care of her.”

While end-of-life conversations aren’t enjoyable, you’ll rest easier knowing you’ve done everything you can to prepare.

For more life insurance advice, read our breakdown of everything you need to know but were afraid to ask

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. Life insurance products are offered through Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. 

© 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance