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5 ways to broach the topic of death with your parents

Watching your parents grow older is not an easy thing to do, but it is a sad part of life. Because it is often so sad, it is also something many in Ontario avoid talking about. Discussing end-of-life matters can be an important way for relieving some of the anxiety over the subject as well as learning ways you can respect your loved one’s wishes and accomplish their final requests through careful estate planning. Nevertheless, how can you tackle this delicate conversation?

Some end-of-life counselors recommend that adult children begin by assessing their relationship with their parents. Understanding the ways in which they communicate now will help children gauge how best to broach the subject. For example, some conversation starters may include the following:

  • Asking straightforwardly if your parent has made a will and, if not, what you can do to help
  • Using a sentimental object that you hope to inherit and asking your parents if they have considered how to distribute their assets
  • Asking your parents about their thoughts, feelings or fears about aging and death
  • Making an appointment to start your own estate planning process and inviting your loved ones to join you
  • Telling your parents that you are worried that you will make the wrong decisions about their affairs and that having a plan in place will be a great help to you

Often estate planning is about relieving the stress and anxiety of those left behind. It may be helpful to impress this upon a parent who seems reluctant to discuss the topic. Many parents also find it reassuring to know that having a plan in place allows them to focus more fully on their loved ones during the time they have left with them.

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