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When Children Are Pushing End-of-Life Planning


"I am not much of a planner. I like to take life as it comes, yet I have children that want me to make funeral arrangements, of all things. While I am in my eighties, I do not plan to depart anytime soon. And it is not just funeral plans they want, they are pressing me for an advance directive and other aspects of my finances that just make me uncomfortable. What is reasonable for me to do to get them off my back?"


Those children, they like to tell us what to do when we get older. With that said, it sounds like you raised them well. They are making very sound recommendations. Even though you may want to put this off and let your children decide for you, I think you should listen to their advice.

If you truly resist the urge to plan anything, your children will be forced to make all of the decisions for you. There are a few reasons why this is undesirable. Not only is it a substantial burden on your children, you may not like the decisions they make on your behalf. One of the nicest things you can do for your children is to be the wise person that you should be by your age. Plan for your future and have your finances in order. Why dump your lack of planning on the kids?
So here is what you do. Tackle one of the following topics each week for the next two months. I realize it is a bit of work, but you must do it.

Here is my “Must-Do” list:

  • Update or create a will.
  • Make a list or mark items/treasures that go to specific children (include in will).
  • Make a list of all accounts (bank, brokerage, funds) and their passwords if you access them online.
  • Create a document that includes all insurance policies.
  • Create an advance directive.
  • Determine your representative for health care and also finances. It need not be the same person.
  • Determine burial desires.
  • Make funeral decisions.
  • Create a list of all important professional people who assist you like a banker, lawyer, accountant and/or a financial advisor.
  • Figure out how and where you want to live when you can no longer care for yourself.

As you progress through the list, communicate your thoughts with the children and consult with others. Weigh the recommendations you receive, and choose the best course for you and your situation.
I realize that you will want to put this project off, letting the children decide when need be. Please do not do that. Doing nothing forces your life work onto your children.

I wish you the best.

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