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    5 Tips for Helping a Loved One Share Their Important Information

    5 Tips for Helping a Loved One Share Their Important Information

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    Asking a loved one to think about documenting important financial and personal information is never an easy conversation to have. Many people are particularly uncomfortable thinking about when they might not be around or able to care for themselves. But it is important for those who might need to make decisions about their loved one’s healthcare or finances to know whether or not there is a plan, and, if not, how to help them get started.

    If he or she has a plan, it makes having the conversation a bit easier; you can jump right into why it is important for you to know that the plan exists and how to access it in a time of need. If, on the other hand, your loved one needs help getting started on a plan, you may need to think about how best to approach offering your help. Staying focused on the benefit of documentation—assuring your loved one’s wishes are honored—will help steer the conversation in a positive direction. If you are calm and reassuring in your approach, it will help to put everyone involved at ease. The following techniques can help get the conversation started.

    1.       Start the conversation with the planning guide

    If your loved one is unsure of where to begin, the What My Loved Ones Need to Know guide can help him or her understand the process. Use the guide to walk your loved one through the basics, such as documentation of important legal and financial information. Breaking the guide down into bite-sized chunks can help if the process seems overwhelming.

    Here’s what you might say:

    “This guide will make planning easier for you. It helps you get organized by putting all your information in one place so nothing important to you is unintentionally overlooked.”

    2.       Share an event or a story

    Another way to open up the conversation is to tell your loved one about an event in the news or a situation you know of and how it got you thinking about him or her. Using a story can help your loved one understand the importance of having their wishes and important information documented.

    Here’s what you might say:

    “When my friend’s father was in an accident, she didn’t know where to find important medical information for his doctors. With this planning guide, we can help make sure that information is documented so if we are ever in that situation we would be able to provide it for you.”

    3.       Offer to help your loved one fill out the plan

    Some people may prefer to go about planning on their own, but, as a loved one, it helps to know that you are willing to sit by and be there for emotional support. Ask if he or she would like some help documenting important information, and reassure him or her that you want to be there in whatever way is most comfortable.

    Here’s what you might say:

                    “It’s not easy to think about this, but I am here to support you.”

    It’s important for you to be sensitive to how your loved one might respond to your offering to help document his or her important legal and financial information. Your loved one should always feel in control during the documentation process. If your loved one has reservations about you helping to fill out the planning guide, you could reassure him or her that you are not going to be making any decisions and are just there to make sure important information is not lost.

    Here’s what you might say:

    “I want to help you organize what’s important to you and make sure that the decisions you make are abided by. By doing this together, I can ask any questions or clarify any of your wishes that I may not understand.”

    4.       Begin with small steps

    If you are just starting this conversation, planning might be a newer subject for your loved one. Encourage him or her to start with the small but important things, like documenting health insurance information and financial account numbers.

    It may be helpful to start a separate list based on what’s most important to your loved one. Then, using the planning guide as a tool, see if you can help fill in the gaps by asking gentle questions. Or, if he or she already has an accountant, lawyer, or other Financial Professional, suggest setting up a meeting so his or her financial advisors can ensure that everything needed is documented in the planning guide.

    5.       Focus on the benefits

    Staying positive and focusing on the benefits of gathering and storing important information will help everyone feel more comfortable as well as reassure your loved one that his or her wishes will be met.

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