How to handle family disagreements about end-of-life plans

(NC) If someone dies without plans in place, there are a multitude of things to do and decisions to make within 72 hours. This could lead to a myriad of possible disagreements. Planning ahead can help to alleviate some of the stress on family members and friends.

Sharing your end-of-life plans with loved ones can be both difficult and uncomfortable, but doesn’t have to be. Although it’s a challenge, it’s a conversation that needs to be had to best ensure final wishes are met without difficulty.

To help make the process easier, consider the following tips.  

Have an open conversation. It’s better to discuss difficult decisions rather than relying on loved ones to make assumptions about your wishes at a time when they’ll be full of emotions. When discussing your wishes, be honest, forthcoming and offer thoughtful explanations about the decisions you’ve made.

Assign a ‘doer.’ Your executor is responsible for making funeral arrangements as well as protecting your estate. These important duties require a lot of time and effort, along with the ability to make intelligent, and sometimes difficult, decisions. Choose someone you know and trust who is comfortable communicating with your loved ones.

Sharing responsibilities. You’re never going to make everyone happy and you need to accept that. When it comes to your final wishes, delegating responsibilities and dividing your assets can come with some confusion or hurt feelings.

“Many people are uncomfortable, but it can help to encourage family members to participate in the process of discussing final plans,” shares Shannon Burberry, branch manager at Arbor Memorial. “When family members participate, they develop a better understanding of your wishes and the reasons behind them.”

Act as a mediator. When emotions are heightened, even the smallest of decisions can stir a reaction from family members. Encourage others to share their concerns so you can act to remedy them.

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