Healthcare professionals are often very candid about conveying their wishes for end-of-life care. They’ve seen patients’ quality of life suffer and families anguish trying to make decisions for loved ones who may be unable to express their dying wishes. Because of these experiences, healthcare workers want to be direct and open about their own desires, sparing their own families’ unnecessary pain. Specific end-of-life care instructions can help alleviate some of the burden from their loved ones when the time comes.
We as financial advisors have similar end-of-life instructions, but as you’d guess they involve financial matters. We’ve seen it with our bereaved clients many times over. Assets live on and beneficiaries tend to create sentimental connections with them. These emotional ties often morph into interpretations of what mom or dad might have wanted them do with these assets, be it financial accounts, real estate, company stock, cars and even knick-knacks.
One sibling might say “Mom would have only wanted me to spend the interest earned on the account,” another sibling says “Dad worked at Microsoft for 30 years so I won’t ever sell that stock,” another says “I can’t sell the house, that’s where dad grew up and he loved it.” Did their parents tell them these were their wishes? Not typically.
Have a conversation with your children. Tell them what you want them to do with assets passed on or gifted to them. It may be as simple as explaining that there are no strings attached, and to do as they please with the ’67 Ford Mustang, the company stock, or the vacation home at the lake. Or maybe you do have defined wishes for that piece of land or specific things you would like an investment account to fund - we’ve seen everything from annual vacations to specific charities. Whatever it is, have the conversation.
Are your parents still living? Now’s your opportunity to have “the talk.”
Now, circling back to the beginning..... if you don’t have a health care directive, get one and be sure to tell those around you what your wishes are regarding both your end-of-life care and your assets.