It is important for all of us to acknowledge the inevitability and finality of death and to make plans accordingly. These plans affect your loved ones, so you should involve them in the planning process. It is best to do this well in advance of perceiving an impending need for the plans. If you are healthy and well there may seem to be no sense of urgency, but always remember how quickly tragedy can strike.
You may be facing a more urgent situation if your mental and/or physical function are declining or you are approaching death. In these cases, it is important to know how rapidly the condition will progress, including how declining health will affect your decision making, to determine the urgency for you.
If these plans are not made before your decision-making capacity declines, your family or loved ones may be responsible for many or most of these steps. You may lose your ability to make your wishes known, such as with an advanced directive and/or will
However, if you begin early, you can designate family members or friends to have power of attorney and be a healthcare proxy to make these decisions for you. You can also use these, and other documents, to specify what decisions you want them to make
When making these plans, there are important aspects of planning for the end-of-life to consider:
- Deciding on family and/or friends who will be responsible for numerous decisions when you are unable to make them, including medical care, financial choices, or funeral arrangements;
- Choosing the beneficiaries of your estate and guardian for any underage children or other dependents;
- Creating legal documents that appoint these individuals, reflect your wishes for these decisions, and name beneficiaries and guardians;
- Protecting and arranging for the smooth transition of an estate;
- Making the correct investment choices for the stage of illness so money is available when needed;
- Considering and budgeting for the many future costs, such as increased healthcare costs and services, skilled nursing facilities, home modifications, and funeral and burial fees;
- Seeking ways to avoid unnecessary costs and overly expensive care; and
- Looking for ways to use insurance to financial benefit.
Resources, such as The Conversation Project, can help with getting started.
With some preparation, these personal, financial, and estate transitioning issues can be easily managed when the time comes. Continue reading for some ways to manage these issues and find resources that will help you do this.