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  • End of Life Planning

    End of Life Planning

    Recent stats show that only around 25% of people have an end of life plan in writing. Creating a plan for end of life can help you have a greater quality of life during your final days and can help alleviate stress and anxiety on your family and loved ones. There are a few important things to consider when planning for your final days. Here are some of the main things to have in place to avoid making common end of life planning mistakes.

    Putting things off

    The best time to do end of life planning is right now. Not when you are sick. You wonít be able to make decisions about your care if you are incapacitated, so do it now while you are of sound mind and body. It will be very stressful for friends and family to make these decisions if you have nothing in writing and are unable to communicate your wishes to them.

    Choose the correct proxy for your care

    It is important to choose the correct person to speak and make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to communicate your wishes. Choose someone who will respect your wishes and is emotionally stable enough to carry through on them during a time of crisis.

    Donít get lost in the details of planning

    Too often, people can become lost in the details of planning for every possible scenario. Instead of experiencing analysis paralysis try to focus on the big picture. Decide where you want to be when you die. Decide where your assets will go. Once you have a handle on major decisions you can fill in the details.

    Discuss your plan with your doctor

    A recent study suggested that people who had taken the time to create a detailed end of life plan, only about 25% of them communicated this plan to their doctor. Your doctor will not be able to carry out your wishes if they are unaware of them and have no way to access them. It would be prudent to schedule a meeting with your doctor and discuss your plans, ask for suggestions, and make sure that they have access to your documentation.

    Discuss your plans with your loved ones

    Just as important as discussing your plans with your doctor, so too is discussing your plans with your loved ones. Only 30% of people have taken the time to have a detailed discussion with their loved ones concerning their end of life plans. Families can become disrupted and torn if they have been communicated different things at different times. Things will change over the years, as your plans and decisions will change. Schedule a time to meet with all your closest loved ones at the same time to discuss in detail your plans. That way everyone will hear the same message and be on the same page.

    Update your plans over time

    As times and circumstances change over time so will your opinions and wishes about your end of life planning. It is a good idea to revisit your plan every 5 years or so to be sure that everything still matches your wishes. Update your documents and discuss with all relevant parties anytime there is a significant change.

    Important documents to have in place

    There are important documents that you will need in place so that your wishes will be carried out as you directed. Here are the main ones.

    A will

    Probably the most important is to have a well thought out and clear will in place. Be sure to update it as needed as circumstances in your life change.

    A living will

    This document spells out your wishes should you become unable to communicate them on your own. It can help lessen some of the stress on family and loved ones as well, since they wonít be guessing what to do on your behalf.

    POLST (physician order for life sustaining treatment)

    A fairly new document, this is basically a contract between you and your doctor. You meet with your doctor and spell out your wishes on this form. You doctor will sign it and it becomes their standing orders. It will become part of your medical records and medical professionals will be bound to follow it.

    Power of attorney for healthcare

    Choose one person to make decisions on your behalf. Discuss with them how you wish to be handled during your final days.

    Durable power of attorney

    Appoint someone to handle your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. This person will have legal access to your bank accounts and other financial vehicles so that bills and other obligations will still be satisfied.

    DNR/DNI Orders (do not resuscitate. Do not intubate)

    This will most likely be spelled out in a POLST, but redundancy is beneficial. Resuscitation is the only medical procedure routinely done without permission, so this form needs to be accessible.

    Diminishing capacity letters

    This document gives a specific professional, the legal right to contact your designated power of attorney or a specific family member should they notice a decrease in your physical or mental capacity.

    Organ donor designation

    If you wish to donate, then set it up with the National Organ Donor Registry at organdonor.gov. Hospitals will often check the list. Having organ donor on your driverís license is not enough.

    Life Insurance

    Make sure those that are financially dependent on you are covered with proper insurance policies or some other source of financial resources.

    Personal property memorandum

    Your personal assets can cause many family disputes, so make sure you have a detailed list of who gets what. A separate personal property memorandum is considered a legal part of a will if it is mentioned in the will. You can update it whenever you want without changing your will.

    Digital assets memorandum

    Specify in your will who will have access to your email and social media accounts after your passing. Without a specific mention the rights to the accounts could fall to the owner of the site.

    Relevant info collection

    Keep a detailed list of where important documents and information are kept. Everything from wills, social security cards, passwords for account logins, as well as keys to houses and cars should be documented with a location.


    End of life planning is an uncomfortable subject for many, but it should be addressed sooner rather than later. With a detailed plan and documentation in place your wishes can be carried out, and stress on family and loved ones can be diminished.
    Brian

  • #2
    Yes! I am so into this! My kids know to get in the fireproof safe to get mom's little black book that has everything all written out on what they should do if I die. They are all young adults still in high school and college so while we've had some detailed conversations about I don't want this or that in a health situation, the financial stuff they are clueless about. But yes everything is organized and neat and they won't have any problems following my instructions. Nor DH should I go before him. I try to educate him on things but he just tells me to write it down and he'll get the book.

    The one thing I still need to do is get a trust. We have a will but I really need to make an appointment with a trust attorney and get working on that. It just seems that money is always needed somewhere else, but it is on my list to get done before the end of the year!

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