Who is going to take care of your affairs when you’re gone? Are things in order or are you going to leave a mess? The key to a smooth end-of-life transition is preplanning. It is important that you lay out a process in advance that will work best for you and your family.
We’ve probably all known people through the years who surround themselves with unfinished business in their tangible life and then suddenly pass on to the next life. Ask any estate or end-of-life planner and they will tell you that you basically have two choices: You can make end-of-life arrangements in advance, or you can leave all those crucial decisions to the ones you love after you’re gone. If you choose the latter, just know that you will not be able to communicate your wishes or make your own arrangements, burdening your family with a daunting task and potentially large expense when you’re gone.
The Power of Planning
It’s part of human nature to ignore and/or avoid things that aren’t urgent or pressing on us in the moment.
- Trimming the trees around the house before a branch breaks and causes damage
- Purchasing life insurance that protects your family in case something happens to you
- Attending to timely maintenance on your car (to name just a few)
These are all great opportunities for planning. When you do, you can be proactive and control important outcomes. When you don’t, you (and your family) have to deal with life’s challenges “on the fly” when you’re not there to express your desires and quite honestly, when your family is mourning your passing and maybe not capable of knowing your desires.
Getting Started with a Sound Estate Plan
Like other important decisions in life, end-of-life planning has many moving parts.
- A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to determine who the beneficiaries of your estate will be and exactly what assets they each will receive.
- A Living Trust lets you ensure that your estate will not be subject to a probate proceeding, avoiding those delays and costs. Your trust owns your titled assets, and you are the main trustee.
- A Financial Power of Attorney can be set up to spring into effect only when you are deemed medically unable to make your own decisions and manage your daily affairs. Until fully recovered, the person acting as your power of attorney is your advocate.
- The Advanced Healthcare Directive states your wishes in the event of a health event leaving you too ill to make your own healthcare decisions. An Advanced Healthcare Directive also allows you to express your values and desires related to end-of-life-care.
- Advanced Funeral Planning spells out your arrangements, how you would like to be remembered, and type of dispositions. Securing these arrangements through a service-based insurance policy provides great protection for your family.
Call to Action
To be fully prepared, you should work with professionals you trust (Estate Planning attorney, end-of-life planner, healthcare provider, financial advisor) to make sure that you have made all the necessary arrangements, documented your wishes, and funded your living trust.
Learning about the decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and letting others know (both family and trusted professionals) are all keys to a smooth and successful end-of-life transition.
References taken from the following resources: