How to Begin Planning the End of Your Life
You may be surprised to know that both you and your loved ones will have greater peace-of-mind once you have made an end-of-life plan. After you have accomplished this, you can set it aside and hope it does not need to be activated for years or even decades.
In order to be prepared, you should contact a lawyer, write a will, set up a trust, and complete an advanced healthcare directive. You should also talk to a mortuary, prepay your funeral, if possible, and leave instructions with your heirs. You will need to choose a trustee to carry out your will, someone who will have a financial power of attorney to handle your finances if you are unable to, and a person who will carry out your medical wishes, as specified in your advanced healthcare directive. These do not have to be the same people.
Making the decisions involved with writing these documents will help you clarify your thinking about who should be your trustee and who should make healthcare decisions for you, in the event you become incapacitated.
Create two Notebooks with Copies of Important Documents
Once you have completed the paperwork, you will want to get two three-ring binders and insert copies of your important documents. Among the things you will want to include are copies of your:
Will and Trust
Advanced healthcare directive
Social Security card
Insurance policies, including health, life and long-term care
Bank account information
Property title, mortgage documents, etc.
Titles to your cars and other vehicles
Personal property inventory, pictures and bequests
Military ID, Military service records, veteran disability status
Passport or citizenship papers
Marriage or domestic partnership certificate
Divorce decrees, pre-marital or post-marital agreements
Spouse's death certificate
List of your diseases or health issues
List of doctors, pharmacies and medications
List of friends, family members, church, employer, etc. and their contact info
Information on what to do with your pets
Advanced funeral planning information
Computer passwords for bank, brokerage or other important accounts, or instructions on where your heirs can find these passwords
Keep one of these notebooks for yourself and your spouse to use. Give the other notebook to the family member or other person who will handle your affairs in the event you die or become temporarily incapacitated.
What to Tell Your Other Family Members
Once you have made your plans, put them in writing, and assembled your notebooks, tell your trustee and other family members about your plans. Let them know how you would like things handled if you become seriously ill or die. Then, reassure your loved ones that you are not currently ill and you hope these instructions are not needed for many years. Make sure your family members are all aware of your desires, long before the time comes.
Maintain your End of Life Planning
Things may change over the years. Your trustee may become ill and unable to fulfill their role in the future. Your insurance policies, names of doctors, and the medications you are taking could change. Periodically you will need to review your notebook and update it. When you update your own notebook, make sure you also update the one in the possession of your trustee, to reduce any confusion in the future.
If you take these steps, you and your heirs will discover you have much less to worry about when you do become seriously ill and the end of your life seems imminent.
If you are interested in more information about retirement planning, where to retire, common medical issues, Social Security, Medicare, and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.
Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which will be published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.
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