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The Single Most Important Discussion You Can Have

Posted on 03/19/2013

RLTV (NextAvenue): Among the many several shocking discoveries was that my very cautious and strategic father didn’t carry life insurance (well, a $5,000 plan from IBM, which basically covered the burial). Nor had he expressed any preferences for said funeral, and they hadn’t even purchased a plot.

Also, when he retired, he chose the “higher pension while alive” option rather than a lower amount that would have lasted my mother’s lifetime. The net loss of income to her (from the lost pension, his veteran benefits and his SSI) was about two-thirds. Most troubling of all were the investments, which thanks to the double whammy of the recession and an unethical broker would have evaporated had I not intervened when I did.

Fortunately, our family has an open, transparent way of interacting, so I’ve been able to take appropriate action. But a lot of families aren’t so open. Even the ones who are, tend to avoid dealing with these kinds of things. And because death is the one thing no one wants to think about — let alone talk about — we’re doing ourselves and our parents a grave disservice by assuming all is in order and not discussing it directly.

As we’ve written about often on this site, most recently ‘The Conversation’ You Need to Have This Holiday Season, this is one of the most important things we can do, and we need to prioritize it. The Conversation Project (the subject of that story) is a great place to begin. As it says on its home page: “60 percent of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is ‘extremely important’” yet “56 percent have not communicated their end-of-life wishes.”

To read the full article click here.