While it can seem morbid, making end-of-life decisions is important to both your estate and your loved ones. There is a lot to consider, which can be overwhelming. For that reason, we have broken some of this information down for you. While not everything will be applicable to every situation, much of it will. Keep reading to learn more.
What are End-of-Life Decisions?
End-of-Life decisions are decisions to be made as you approach the end of your life such as medical intervention, estate planning, organ or body donation, and funeral service planning. It is never too early to begin thinking about this, as you can always make changes later. Also, you do not want to make decisions while feeling rushed or worse, when your mental capacity is in question.
Why is it important to make these decisions?
These decisions are important to make because it will lessen the burden on your loved ones. If they have to make all of these decisions on your behalf, it will be much more difficult to do while they are grieving. To make this process easier for everyone, it is best to have decisions made clear ahead of time. To best get this message across, it may be worth having a conversation with your loved ones about your wishes.
Conversations to Have
While it can be difficult, sitting down with the people you care about and who will be handling what happens after you are gone can help a lot in the future. This is a time where you can make your intentions and wishes as clear as possible. You might summarize your funeral or burial preferences, your wishes for medical prevention, and other major decisions. Keeping the conversation light and fact-based can avoid any emotion-fueled responses. Make sure you have a plan ahead of time so that the conversation does not get off track.
Decisions to Make
So, what are these decisions we keep talking about? First of all, you will want to decide on and name an executor. This person’s job is to make sure that what is described in your Will is carried out. They will be in charge of everything after your death, including distributing assets to the beneficiaries listed in your will. You will want someone who is responsible, trustworthy, and has the emotional capacity for this work.
If you have younger children, another important figure to name is who you want to be their guardian if they are still under 18 years old when you pass away. Again, this is an extremely personal decision that of course requires a lot of responsibility and emotional capacity.
Taking note of your assets is another important step. You should make a list of all property you own, including financial accounts. Also make note of any digital accounts, such as bank accounts or social media accounts you may want someone to be able to access.
Your end-of-life housing arrangements is also something to consider. Will you stay in your own home? A family member’s or friend’s home? Do you require hospice care or a nursing home? If not, do you require an at-home nurse? All of these are things you will want to specify and communicate to your loved ones.
Finally, consider what you want for your funeral arrangements. Decide if there are any specific details you want included in your funeral, whether that be a location, music, or service. You should also specify how you want to be buried or cremated.
Documents to Draft
There are several important documents to draft as you are making your end-of-life decisions. They include a Will, medical POA/Advanced directive/Living Will, and a durable power of attorney.
An advanced directive will list your medical preferences. You might specify if you are an organ donor, and if so, you have any preferences as to how those organs are used. You can also list a medical power of attorney on this document, which will be an individual who has the power to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to.
A Will lists your assets and how you want them distributed. It might also list other end-of-life decisions that you want officially documented. A Living Will, on the other hand, is a document that specifies the medical care you want or do not want to receive in end-of-life scenarios. A power of attorney gives someone the ability to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to.
These are just some of the steps you should be thinking about as you begin your end-of-life planning. If you have any further questions about any of these processes, please contact Ward, Shindle & Hall.