Excerpted from The Talk, authored by Elaine S. Saunders

Remember the talk you had with your kids before they left for school the first time, then the one when they left for college? Or when they finally left home to be on their own or get married?

Well, what about the talk about what to do when you are not here or are unable to function or communicate? The “Talk” that you need to have with your family now?

Have you discussed your  family plans - for your health issues, final arrangements, dispensation of your assets? How about where you will live, transportation issues, day to day care (housekeeping, meal preparation, medication)?

Do not put off with your family this important “TALK” until it is too late. Have it soon so that your family is not left scrambling to determine what you would want done, how it would be paid for and who is supposed to do what.

Do you have an Advance Directive indicating who will handle your medical decisions when you no longer can? What about final arrangements, pre-paid or funds set aside for that purpose? Do you have an up-to-date will? If so, were all the variants explained so that the language was clear?

Gather your important paperwork together, making sure beneficiaries names are correct and determine an executor for your will and who you want in that capacity. Be sure that all legal documents are signed and witnessed if appropriate. Share your wishes with your family in person where possible and more importantly in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.

Avail yourself of resources such as Compassion & Choices to assist you in navigating this process.