Think about this: there are about 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s – only one of many incapacities a person can endure – and only 40 percent of Americans have a medical directive.

Living with any illness, disability, or other incapacity is understandably challenging. However, ensuring that you have a patient advocate designation, also called a medical or healthcare power of attorney, and other medical paperwork in order can reduce much of that stress.

No Time Like the Present to Talk the Talk!

Watching a loved one struggle and suffer through a disability is stressful on everyone. Reminding your loved one that they need to set aside time to prepare for an emergency can seem like an insignificant nag, and is definitely a delicate, yet inevitable, conversation that no one wants to have. Yet, it’s probably one of the most important conversations you should be having with your loved ones.

It’s also a conversation for everyone. Whether you just got married and want a secure future, had a baby and want to establish guardians, conservators, and trustees to ensure he or she is cared for, are caregiving for your elderly parent and want to find out their final wishes, or have a friend who has some medical impairments, this is a conversation you need to initiate.

And while it seems like no time is the “right time” to have this talk, there truly is “no time like the present,” as October is Organize Your Medical Information Month. So how can you gently approach “the talk” without the discomfort?

Reality is the Best Segue

Watch the news: Think of the news as a documentary to show us how unexpected life can be. Unfortunately, we see it every day with natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, surgeries gone wrong, auto accidents, and so on. While catching up on all that is happening in the world, have you ever thought about “what if that was someone I knew?” These aren’t things that “happen to other people” – they’re things that can happen to any of us at any time.

Make it personal: How many times have you heard stories from colleagues, friends, or even friends of friends? Your friend’s father passed away and her mother has dementia. Or your colleague’s parents were in a terrible car accident. Or the neighbor had a botched surgical procedure. You’re already talking about the unfortunate event, why not use it as a catalyst to suggest to  your loved one that they prepare a medical power of attorney? And if your parents are retired, it’s inevitable that you will learn about all of their friends’ illnesses and injuries, right? Rather than change the subject as quickly as possible, use that time to ask them what they would want if something like that happened to them. Then ask them to see an attorney about putting it down on paper.

Gift-surance: We all do it. During holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations, we have, at least once, picked out a gift that, if for some reason it didn’t work out, we would have no problem keeping it for ourselves. What better gift-surance than to give the gift of an estate plan? More than likely it’s something they need and, now that it’s paid for, will probably create. Plus, you will be gifting peace of mind for both your loved one and yourself. And if they really don’t want it? Use it for yourself or someone else who needs one.

Be a Role Model: Before you start preaching to your loved ones about how they should be managing their affairs, remember to look at your own. If you don’t have an estate plan, you should probably get one. Maybe you do so before you initiate this chat, or maybe you propose that you both create estate plans together. As we know from work-out buddies, project teams at work and school, and other daunting tasks, it’s always easier to go outside of your comfort zone when someone else is doing the same.

Life is Uncertain, But One Thing is For Sure!

We’re here for you. Whether an emergency struck and you need an estate plan now or you’re just trying to be prepared – our experienced estate planning attorneys are ready to go over your options. Learn more about what paperwork your individual situation would benefit from at your free consultation by contacting us at: or 248.399.3300.