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    Having the “Just in Case” Conversation with Your Loved Ones

    Having the “Just in Case” Conversation with Your Loved Ones

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    During times of loss or illness, family members and friends often find themselves wishing they had proactively planned for the future. Piecing together another person’s financial life can require detective work if they have not documented important information. So many details from bank account numbers and passwords to insurance policies come into play at this time when you have many other things to be thinking about. Talking with your loved ones about documenting and sharing important financial and personal information may seem overwhelming or raise feelings of sadness for you, but facing the challenge can make it easier for them to reference important information if the need occurs.

    If you’ve taken the first step toward end of life planning by filling out the What My Loved Ones Need to Know guide, the next step is discussing your plan with your loved ones. Here are a few approaches to get the conversation started.

    1. Start the Conversation by Showing Them the Planning Guide

    You’ve organized your assets and documentation and are feeling ready to talk to your loved ones. Maybe you have tried talking to them before but stopped when you noticed an uncomfortable look. You can use the What My Loved Ones Need to Know guide as a tool to begin.

    Show them the guide and let them know it’s helping you organize important information and that it documents what will make things easier for them — now and in the future. Explaining the purpose of the guide will help them understand how you would like things to work and where your important information is.

    If your loved ones express worry, tell them it’s important to you to make the process clearer for them so that there is less confusion later about what to do.

    Here’s what you might say:

    “It’s not easy for either of us to have this kind of conversation, but it means a great deal to me. I want to help you now so you won’t feel unsure of what to do later.”

    2. Discuss the Basics Before Getting into Harder Topics

    Start by sharing concrete information from the guide, such as your financial accounts and your health and life insurance information, before moving on to heavier and more emotional topics, like wills and final wishes. Today, more than ever, planning ahead includes instructions for handling your online presence such as Facebook, Twitter and other social profiles. Part of your conversation should include talking about your digital life and where they can find your log in information so they can take the actions you want.

    Here’s what you might say:

    “For today, let’s talk about where you can find my basic information, like what my health insurance is and where you can access my financial accounts. It’s really important that those I trust the most know where to get critical information when they need it.”

    As you progress in your conversation, talk to your loved ones about critical care needs so they will be prepared in the event you can no longer make decisions. While it’s a difficult topic, let them know you want to guide them even when, physically, it’s no longer possible.

    Here’s what you might say:

     “I always want to be there for you, so if something happens, I’ve written everything down. I’ve already made decisions on what I want so you won’t have to second guess or wonder what you should do.”

    3. Consider the Guidance of Your Financial Professionals

    Not only can an accountant, lawyer, or other Financial Professional assist you in reviewing the plan, but they can also help explain to your loved ones what they might need to know. Share how your Financial Professionals have helped you and how they can be an additional resource for answering any questions your loved ones may have now or later, especially in a time of need.

    Here’s what you might say:

    “I know it’s a lot to think about. Do you have any questions or concerns about my plan? I can help you with those now — but also know that there are other professionals who can help you so you don’t have to face these concerns alone down the road.”

    4. Focus on Courage, Helpfulness and Reassurance

    It takes courage to talk to your loved ones about your end of life plan. If you stay focused on the benefits of documentation — less stress and confusion for them — it will help steer the conversation in a positive direction.

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