Talking about the end of life is a sensitive conversation for anyone, but when it comes to talking about dying with aging or elderly parents, it can be especially challenging.
With funeral costs and final expenses such as debts and mortgage to be paid, having a clear plan in place can help assure financial stability for the survivors as they move through the grieving process.
Starting the Conversation
You can relieve some of the discomfort from the conversation by explaining that you care for them and value their independence; you just want to understand their needs. If you have siblings, they should also be involved as early as possible. The emphasis should be on promoting a positive, open discussion.
Find out what arrangements, if any, are already in place. Reassure your parents that you aren’t judging them for plans that were, or weren’t, made when asking these questions:
- Do you have a power of attorney or will?
- Who do you want to make the decisions if you become incapacitated?
- Where do you keep important documents including:
- Birth certificates
- Medical records
- Property records
- Insurance documents
- Financial documents
- Contact info for attorneys, doctors and financial planners
- Logins and passwords to any online and social accounts
- When the time comes, would you prefer to be at home or in assisted living/hospice care?
- Are there family or religious traditions you would like followed?
- Have you prearranged your funeral?
Funeral Costs in Canada
According to Canadian Funerals, the average cost of a burial – which includes a professional services fee for the funeral provider’s time, the ceremony, the casket, transportation, a memorial package and a plot at a cemetery – can range from $5,000 on the lower end to upwards of $15,000. Cremation, on the other hand, is often a less expensive option, ranging from $600 for a simple direct cremation to $4,500 once you start adding in elements like a viewing, funeral flowers, and an obituary notice.
Of course, most parents don’t want their adult children to shoulder these costs so it’s important to have a clear understanding of the kinds of insurance and financial resources that will support you at the time of their death.
At this point, you could recommend that your parents speak to an insurance advisor to review their end-of-life plan and ensure they have appropriate life insurance coverage that will help cover some, or all, of their final expenses. If they don’t already have coverage, their insurance advisor can help determine a monthly premium that fits within their budget.
A financial advisor can also examine your parents’ resources to ensure they have a plan that supports their medical and living expenses.
Carrying on the Conversation
These don’t have to be one-time conversations; it can be an ongoing dialogue. Further down the line, it may be important to include other experts such as geriatric care managers or legal advisors. The conversation should make both you and your parents feel more knowledgeable of their wishes and secure in their end-of-life plan.
Understand the Critical Role Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance can Play in Covering Final Expenses:
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.