Planning for death can be a trying process, but a necessary one. Even if you’re in good health, making sure that you have all their bases covered in case you do pass unexpectedly or are in a medical condition where you can’t vocalize your needs is important. Taking care of all your paperwork early will give both you and your loved ones peace of mind.
End-of-life preparation is a process that is unique to your individual circumstances and needs. However, there are some essential steps that should be taken.
Determine a Power of Attorney (POA)
Power of attorney enables someone else to make legal decisions on your behalf after your death or in the event that you’re suffering from health issues that render you unable to consciously make decisions. Granting a trusted individual the power of attorney is important to resolving any conflicts or crucial decisions around the end of your life. Many times, people will grant family members power of attorney, but this is fully up to you.
Write a Living Will (Advanced Directive)
In the event that you are unconscious or in a condition that prevents you from being physically or mentally able to make decisions, a living will can come in handy. Living wills are sets of directives that enable someone to dictate what medical procedures they would prefer at the end of their life, such as instructions for pain relief, usage of resuscitation, and ventilators. In many cases, people also appoint a medical power of attorney, which helps account for scenarios that were not indicated on the living will or that are medical best practices.
Write a Will
Having a will prepared in advance can avoid many potential disputes after death. Seeking a lawyer’s advice can be helpful when writing a will, but it is not legally necessary. Most importantly, you must designate beneficiaries, an executor for the will, and a guardian for any dependents. Discussing your will with the POA and executor will prevent any misunderstandings.
Sort out Finances
Any debts, finances, bills, or insurance should all be sorted out. Consulting a lawyer can help in this regard, but also letting family members know about life insurance and other potential financial policies like retirement plans will ensure that they’re the recipients of the funds. Funerals can become expensive, so setting aside money and/or making advance arrangements is helpful and will alleviate any additional stress your loved ones might feel.
Let loved ones know
Initiating a conversation with loved ones about your personal needs and wants is important for all parties. Topics like cremation vs. burial should be communicated to loved ones to give some peace of mind, and matters of the will and any documentation should also be provided to help sort out any logistical matters afterward.
A conversation about end-of-life preparation can be difficult to initiate and to receive. However, with anything, communication is key. An open and honest conversation will ease the anxiety of both parties and clarify your needs. Following these guidelines will make the conversation easier.
Ultimately, the end of your life can be hard to process. But, with help, planning for it will be easier and can even be therapeutic. Making plans for your eventual death will aid in the grieving process for those you leave behind and give you peace of mind.