Opening up about end-of-life plans

Sometimes, the most difficult conversations are the most important ones to have. Talking to loved ones about end-of-life plans is definitely one of those discussions.

It’s not that people don’t want to talk about it.  A recent survey showed 85 percent of adults over 45 are uncomfortable discussing end-of-life plans, 7 in 10 say the topic is generally avoided, according to AARP’s 2024 End of Life Survey: Thoughts and Attitudes on Death and Dying.1

Part of the challenge, of course, is that it can be painful to even contemplate losing someone you love. But another thing possibly hindering the conversation is that families feel overwhelmed by how many things they need to figure out. Decisions about healthcare, funeral planning, financial assets, dividing up personal property, even what someone chooses to do with their social media accounts after their death — it’s a lot to tackle. A high-level list of tasks includes the following:

  • Contact funeral home for burial arrangements and associated costs.
  • Contact attorney to obtain will and/or trust documents.
  • Contact accountant and collect all tax information.
  • Contact the county or state vital records office to get copies of the death certificate (typically between 10 to 25 copies).
  • Contact bank and all financial institutions for account information.
  • Have the location and keys to all safety deposit boxes and/or safes.
  • Get the list of all credit cards, monthly bills (e.g., utility, phone, cable), outstanding debts.
  • Get the list of key phone numbers, access codes and passwords to shut down services and social media accounts.
  • Collect all insurance policies.

Two things can make it easier to face the conversation with courage, strength and wisdom: an empathetic third party and a clear guide to what’s important. You may want to include a financial professional, who has likely participated on some level in many of these conversations, in the discussion. Additionally, check out Equitable’s Share Your Love Family Discussion Guide, which offers a complete worksheet for making a plan.

Nothing can make losing a loved one any less painful. But being prepared can ease the burden.


1Source: AARP End of Life Survvey: Thoughts and Attitudes on Death and Dying, 2024.

GE-4545456.2 (04/2024) (Exp. 04/2027)