How can I start "that" conversation?

Q: My parents aren't getting any younger, yet they refuse to talk about their plans for later life. How can I get them to open up?

When my grandparents died, I was about 15 at the time, but I remember it being chaotic. My parents had an awful time accessing documents, calling round the family and dividing up the assets. It caused them to have a burst of "we won't be like this when we die" and as a teenager I ignored them and probably went back to playing my Gameboy.

Looking back, I wish I'd grabbed the chance to ask them what they'd have done differently from my grandparents. Now my parents are in their late 70s, they simply shut me down when I approach "that" topic and refuse to talk about any of their wishes after they die.

What can I do to get them to open up?

A: If there's one thing we're guaranteed to do, it's die - but you wouldn't think it!

Less than half of us in the UK have drafted a will, and only around 5% have a Lasting Power of Attorney. It's easy to think death is "a long way off" or put off conversations as they feel like they are a bit taboo.

However, by not preparing in the event of your death, you will put your family through much more stress and emotional turmoil in the long run.

Here at Downs, we've seen how arguments can escalate very quickly among families over what they believe they are entitled to when a loved one passes away. There can also be some ambiguity over what your wishes are. How would you feel if you were cremated, for example, if your preference was to be buried?

These days, people prefer their funerals to be much less sombre occasions - rather a celebration of a life rather than the mourning of a death.

A preference could be for an upbeat song to be played instead of the traditional tearjerker, or request that everyone dresses in yellow instead of black.

Perhaps these are the types of conversations you can try having with your parents, maybe even lead with your own preferences.

Have you recently written your will or lasting power of attorney?

If not, use it as a reason to talk to your parents about it. What did they have to do to start the process, is there anything you should consider when writing yours and where should you keep it? Perhaps that way, they might open up.

If you would like any help drafting a will or lasting power of attorney, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.


Mehboob Dharamsi

Mehboob Dharamsi


Tel: +44 (0) 1932 588579

Office: Cobham Office

Email: [email protected]