THE GIFT OF CLARITY A Difficult Chat That Can Make a Difference
S easons greetings from all of us at the firm! We hope your December has been filled with joy and the comfort of your loved ones. Since so much of the holiday season focuses on giving, I wanted to spend some time discussing one of the most important gifts you can give your family: the gift of clarity that comes with making your health care directives known. I know it is a difficult conversation to have. But believe me when I say that families who have these conversations early fair far better than those who wait. Having a beloved parent or grandparent lose their ability to make their own health decisions is a hard enough emotional experience as it is. Confusion over your arrangements can lead to bitter infighting and crushing doubt among your loved ones. Certainty that your wishes are being carried out gives the people who care about you peace of mind in an otherwise difficult time. This all goes back to something I tell the people I work with all the time: Your people are your plan . As much as getting your estate in order can feel like paperwork, the truth is that there are people behind each and every one of those decisions you make. Beyond simply transferring your assets, the best estate plans are about peace of mind, giving the people you care about the comfort that your last wishes were respected. Of course, this does not make this kind of conversation any easier to have. The best advice I can give about discussing your health care directives is to find the communication style that suits you and your family. I have had clients who write letters to their adult children and others who prefer an in-person chat. You might choose to talk to loved ones individually or make your wishes known in a group
setting. My own grandmother reiterated her directives to our family every Christmas. Sitting around her dining room table, she told us exactly what to do should she ever be placed on life support. “Just let me meet my maker,” she would say. While it is important to have these conversations with family, you do not need to bring a lawyer into the mix. You can fill out your advanced health care directive form on your own. In fact, these forms can be found online, free of charge. You can visit aging. georgia.gov/documents/georgia-advance-directive-health-care and download a PDF that includes information about advanced health care directives in our state as well as the necessary forms to complete your own directive. Of course, after you fill out this form, it is important to tell your loved ones that it exists, and let them know where to find it in case of an emergency. Having seen the difference these conversations can make in putting loved ones at ease, I really do think they comprise the greatest gift you could give this time of year. The peace of mind that clarity brings can be a huge weight off the shoulders of the people who are closest to you. Please, even if the need for an advanced health care directive feels far away, consider taking action now. One hard conversation today can save your loved ones from many difficult ones down the road.
Here is to all the ways we can show our love this holiday season,
Do you have estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with Asked and Answered in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential. The opinions offered in this column are not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.
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