Updated: September 18, 2023
Initial planning will usually focus on long-term financial planning, estate planning, and planning for your retirement, none of which are too soon to start. However, the process should also include contingency plans in case of emergencies, unexpected situations or illnesses, declining abilities due to aging, and the end-of-life.
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 before you think it is necessary. 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 you wait until your mental and/or physical function are declining rapidly 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 the financial costs, management your estate, and healthcare decisions when you are no longer able to. 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 budget for emergencies and 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 disability and the end-of-life to consider.
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.