The Beginning of the End-Of-Life Planning
Author: Valerie Michel Buck
There are so many moments when you think about what you want for your final years in life. It’s never too late and never too early to prepare yourself and those around you for your final wishes.
This article provides an outline of the documents you should gather and distribute amongst your trusted Care Advocates. This outline is also something to help you prepare for your final years to help ensure peace of mind.
What are Care Advocates?
Your Care Advocate represents your interests. This person could be a caregiver, a child, a friend, an attorney or trusted advisor. These individuals can be vital when making caregiver decisions, arranging funding for services, arranging services or coordinating care. These individuals may also be responsibility for your power of attorney. Remember to choose those whom you trust as some of your information is personal and financially sensitive.
- Who are you entrusting to make your health care choices if you are not able to do so? You may avoid this by setting up a living will or advanced directive.
- What treatments would you like to have or would rather refrain from in case you become very ill?
- Would you like to be resuscitated in case you stop breathing or your heart stops?
- Would you like your family to pull the plug in cases where the option may be necessary?
- If you need caregiving would you like this to be done through a home health care service or in a facility?
- Have you considered purchasing long term care insurance? Long-term care insurance helps pay for the care you need when you can no longer care for yourself.
- Would you like to spend your very last days in a hospital, at home or in a hospice facility?
- Do you have a living will to make sure your wishes for end of life health care are being executed?
Family and Estate
- Is your will up to date? Does it reflect your current wishes and desires?
- Have you chosen an executor of for your estate? Is this executor honest and able to complete your wishes?
- Does your executor have all the facts they will need to settle your estate?
- Have you considered working with an estate planner?
- If you are caring for a loved one, elderly or minor, have you made arrangements for their care and guardianship?
- Have you talked to elder law attorney about setting up a living will or advanced directive?
- Have you talked to your children and grandchildren about who receives certain objects from you such as furniture, heirlooms, and mementos?
- Have you talked with family about counseling for those who survive your death?
- Have you set up your Power of Attorney? Have you decided on a trusted Care Advocate to pay bills and make financial choices on your behalf if you are unable to do so?
- Do you have an updated list of your assets, debts and creditors?
- Do you have a trusted Care Advocate that you can give access to your bank and investment accounts?
- Do you have a trusted Care Advocate who can find all your legal papers, such a living will, birth certificate, etc? Do they have access to your safe deposit box?
- Are your assets titled in a way where they can be dispersed after your death? Is this in your will? Is your lawyer and or executor of your estate aware of this?
- Does your pension(s), Social Security, Life Insurance, and Retirement Account(s) have the proper beneficiaries?
- Do you own a business or are you a partner in a business? Who will run the business if you are unable to?
- Have you arranged your funeral, burial or cremation? Does your Care Advocate know about these arrangements?
- If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, have you considered applying for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs? Here is a list of VA Accredited individuals who advocate for veterans.
Other Important Issues
- Have you talked to your spiritual elder about any religious concerns?
- Have you tied up any loose ends such as estranged friends or relatives you would like to reconnect with?
- Do you have any questions about death you need to discuss with a counselor or spiritual elder?
- Would you like to leave anything written (including medical history, great stories, etc) or pictures to future generations?
It is always best to be well prepared for the end of your journey on earth, it helps ease the burden of family, friends and helps you get the best care for yourself with little misinterpretation to your final wishes and desires.