While death is a fixed certainty, we always think of it as being a long ways off. But when we stop to think about it, we can bring up memories of an early or unexpected death, or the messiness of someone’s personal estate that took months or years to sort out, or the angst of not knowing what someone’s end-of-life care wishes were. The steps taken now can make a real difference in the lives of those close to you by sparing them from having to make difficult decisions.
Planning for an uncertain future is always a good thing, and it’s never too late to put some things into place. Planning includes thinking, learning, connecting with the right resources, documenting, and communicating. Here are some of the important things to plan:
- Plan your future care and support. Acquaint yourself with the range of residential care facilities, assisted living, memory care and adult foster care services available in your community. Learn about in-home care options including home health and hospice care covered by most insurances.
- Make financial plans to ensure that the people you care about are protected. Make sure that insurance policies and other important documents such as titles, deeds, bank documents, wills, appraisals, and so forth are stored safely and that your personal representative or trusted family member knows where to locate these items.
- Write your Will to set out who gets what and to avoid difficult legal problems for your family. Consider including major assets in a Trust. Don’t forget to consider a charitable component in your will or estate plan to communicate your legacy.
- Identify who you wish to be your personal representative or executor.
- Complete an Advance Directive and POLST (Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) form to inform others of your wishes in the event you cannot communicate those yourself.
- Learn about organ donation and how that is handled in your community.
- Record your funeral wishes including pre-planning and pre-paying for cremation or burial plots. Where would you like memorial donations to be designated?
- Tell your life story and communicate what kinds of rituals or cultural practices you want to have people respect at the end of your life.