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3 Important Conversations to Have Before Death

No one is eager to speak about death with their…
a man and woman sitting at a table with coffee cups

No one is eager to speak about death with their loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s an unavoidable certainty that we will all eventually pass on, so speaking about our own deaths and the things we hope will come after is an important part of a person’s life. This is true for everyone, whether young, old, rich, or poor. No matter your circumstances, it’s crucial to talk to your family about death so that when it does come — hopefully, a long time from now — you and they can be prepared.

Often this conversation is accomplished through will planning. The creation of a will takes much of the stress off of your family and leaves the guesswork to you. You can decide how your assets will be allocated and what you would like done with your remains, among many other things.

With the infections of COVID-19 spiking once more, there has never been a better time to discuss these things than now. An infection can result in anything from mild symptoms that resemble the flu to a shocking and quick hospitalization. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has strongly suggested wearing cloth face coverings or other masks to limit your exposure while in close contact with others, but there is still so much we don’t know about COVID-19 and the dangers posed to higher-risk individuals most affected by its spread. With so much uncertainty swirling around us, it can be refreshing to take charge of something in the here and now. Discussing these plans will put your family at ease in the long run.

How to Talk About Inheritance


Money is never an easy thing to talk about, especially if you come from a large family with numerous complicated entanglements. That being said, directing your beneficiaries on what to do with your money after you are gone is a crucial preplanning step in order to stave off any infighting that may spring up as a result of unallocated assets.

While we never want to think that we could end up in a bitter fight with our loved ones over someone’s jewelry, property, or cash assets, it happens more often than you might imagine. As adult children work through the assets that have been willed to them it can be easy to get wrapped up in jealousy, with one or more siblings beginning to feel that they are being cheated out of their ‘rightful’ share of the wealth. In order to prevent a situation that could explode into a long term falling out, it’s important to talk about your wishes while you are still alive. Discussing your assets and your hopes for them — or better yet, the stipulations in your legal will — will clear up any misunderstandings or confusion that may arise later if you leave it you your loved ones to try to interpret your wishes. Be clear upfront on what you want and your family will respect those wishes without the battle.

In order to successfully navigate this difficult topic, it’s important to start by evaluating your financial picture in its entirety. Taking stock of your assets and investment portfolio will help you understand your financial situation with complete clarity. You can allocate these pieces of property in any way you want. For instance, you may choose to donate your entire estate to a charity that is close to your heart or give it all to your favorite granddaughter.

However, it’s important to be realistic about what decisions light this will entail for those you are leaving behind. Many parents chose to split up their wealth evenly amongst their children in order to negate any potential fights over the fairness of the distribution. This is certainly an option for you and your money. Whatever you choose to do with your assets, it’s important to identify everything you own of value and mark it in some way for bequeathment. Then, speak with your children or extended family about the decisions you have made with regards to its allocation. They will understand and respect your wishes. Speaking about money is tough for many families, but it’s a necessary conversation.

Discussing Your Feelings on Burial

Many people chose to be cremated instead of buried. Cremation services are dignified (for more on this see and the resultant ashes can be kept safely in an urn on the mantle or in another space in the home. Rather than visiting your body at a cemetery, your loved ones can make your memorial space more intimate and close to the day in and day out. Others may insist on a funeral home wake, casket, and traditional burial. This can be an incredibly difficult choice for family members left behind if you don’t discuss your wishes with them, adding to the stress and sense of loss as they seek to decipher what you may have wanted.

Discussing your death wishes can seem morbid but it’s a natural part of the end of life planning that makes the process easier for your grieving family. Circumventing the need to choose between cremation and burial for you can be a fantastic gift to your loved ones. Having this talk will give them guidance on what you want to be done with your remains. This can include anything from a wake in a funeral home, yearly memorial services at the church where you have spent your Sundays, or cremation that saves on your family’s overall costs for your final expenses. Whatever you want to be done, you should speak with your loved ones about it so that they understand your wishes and can do justice by them without having to decipher what you may have considered proper or dignified.

Talking About Your Love

Finally, discussing your love for your family is crucial in these final days or months of life. Leaving mourning family members behind is the devastating reality of death, but while you still have time, make sure you convey your love for those who mean the most to you. Leaving behind family members without having the chance to say goodbye or tell them how much they mean to you is one of the greatest tragedies in life. No matter what your circumstances are, you should be talking about your love with the people closest to you, and as you grow older this needs to take on greater importance.

Sometimes, these conversations will become the final pieces of their memory of you. We carry these conversations closest to our hearts. These final memories of you and your love will last them a lifetime as they navigate their own triumphs and defeats, and the explicit show of your feelings will boost them through it all as they continue on the journey through life themselves.

This can be an incredibly hard conversation to have, especially if you aren’t already in the habit of expressing affection with your family. But taking the time to discuss these feelings and your bond with one another will make all the difference for years to come.

Talk to your family members about the things that matter most, and don’t forget to tell them you love them. These conversations will pave the way for a smooth sending off or lead down the road to a bitter fight over inheritance and decision making that can create lifelong animosity.