Deciding Who Should Be Involved

African-American family, three generations

Involve appropriate family members. Be sensitive to a parent’s desire for privacy and balance it with the desire to have all members of the immediate family present. Who constitutes the “immediate family”? Should daughters-in-law and sons-in-law be included? How about adopted children—or children by another marriage? How old should participants be? Could the combined input of in-laws, nieces, and nephews overwhelm the rightful input of a single adult child?

If family relations are tense, some members may not consent to be present. If this is the case, try suggesting that the meeting be facilitated by an “outside person,” such as a family lawyer, adviser, social worker, family counselor, or therapist. Often the mere presence of an “outsider” will keep the mood calm and businesslike and the conversation on course. However, an outsider’s presence may also inhibit openness among family members. Decide what’s best for your situation.

Lesson Contents

I. Introduction

II. Advance Directives for Health Care

III. Starting an Advance Directive Discussion

a. Plan Ahead
b. Hold a Family Meeting
b.1. Deciding Who Should Be Involved
b.2. Preparing for the Meeting
b.3. Suggested Case Studies
c. Talk Among Family Members

V. Learn More


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Communicate Your Advance Directives for Health Care belongs to a series called Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you organize important household papers and begin preparing your estate plan.