You never know when your time will come, so it’s essential to make end-of-life decisions and arrangements ahead of time. Doing so ensures your wishes are carried out and provides comfort to your loved ones during a difficult time.
If you’re unsure where to start, here is a guide to help you begin making end-of-life plans:
Consider Global Repatriation
If you spend significant time abroad or have loved ones overseas, you may want to consider global repatriation plans to return your remains home after passing in another country. Research requirements and make advance arrangements for international transfer and transport of your body.
Share such plans with your advocate and family. For more information about your global repatriation, visit globalrepatriations.com.au.
Decide On Life-Sustaining Treatment
Carefully consider your preferences regarding life-sustaining treatments, such as ventilators, feeding tubes, CPR, dialysis, blood transfusions, and more. Have a detailed discussion with your doctor to understand these options and their implications. Once decided, ensure they are clearly documented in an advance directive.
If your preferences change, update your advance directive promptly and immediately communicate any changes to your medical advocate and healthcare providers. This step ensures your current wishes are known and can be accurately followed if you cannot communicate them.
Choose Your Medical Advocate
It’s crucial to appoint a medical advocate or healthcare proxy who will ensure your medical wishes are respected if you can’t communicate them. Choose a trustworthy person, discuss your medical values and priorities with them, and make sure they agree to this role. Also, legally document this choice in an advance healthcare directive, especially if you consider home health care services.
Appoint A Durable Power Of Attorney For Legal And Financial Matters
In addition to a medical advocate, it’s essential to appoint a durable power of attorney. If you become incapacitated, this person is responsible for managing your legal and financial affairs.
Unlike the healthcare proxy, the durable power of attorney has the authority to pay bills, access bank accounts, manage your property, and handle other non-medical tasks. Choose someone who is reliable and understands financial and legal matters. As with your healthcare proxy, it’s wise to have a backup option for this role as well.
Consider Palliative And Hospice Care
Palliative care provides relief from symptoms and stress of serious illness. Hospice care offers similar comfort care plus support services for those with a terminal diagnosis. Weigh the benefits of enrolling in these programs early to improve your quality of life.
Plan Your Funeral Or Memorial Service
Consider prepaying and preplanning funeral and burial expenses to ease the burden on your loved ones. Decide on your preferred funeral home, type of service, burial versus cremation, organ donation, and more. Share your wishes with your family so they can honor them.
Choose Where To Donate Your Remains
If you opt for cremation, decide where you want your ashes scattered or placed. It could be a cemetery plot, columbarium niche, or memorial ash garden. You can also choose to have ashes divided amongst loved ones. Just be sure to make your wishes known.
Settle Your Estate
Create or update your will and assign an executor to ensure your assets are distributed as intended. Make a list of accounts, policies, possessions, and debts. If your estate is large or complex, consider consulting an estate attorney. Planning ahead eases the transition for your heirs.
Preplan Your Obituary And Notification
You can ease the burden on your family by outlining your obituary with crucial dates, survivors, memorial info, accomplishments, etc. Make a list of people your executor should notify about your passing, like close friends and colleagues.
Write Ethical Wills Or Letters
Ethical wills or letters, which are not legally binding documents, serve as a personal and emotional expression of your wisdom, values, life lessons, apologies, forgiveness, and final words of love. They offer a way to impart your personal legacy separate from material assets.
Identify who you want to receive these letters and take time to write thoughtful notes they can treasure after you’re gone. Consider sharing inspirational quotes, favorite memories, or meaningful Bible verses to provide comfort.
Organize Important Documents
Make things easier on your loved ones by compiling important documents like your will, insurance policies, bank/retirement accounts, real estate deeds, car titles, and advance healthcare directives all in one place. Let your advocate know where to access these documents if needed.
Planning for your inevitable passing may seem morbid, but it is one of the most caring acts you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Use this guide to make the necessary arrangements for a graceful exit. Discuss your plans openly with those who matter most and explain your reasoning behind each decision to avoid potential conflict later on. While you still have time, live well, love boldly, and leave the rest thoughtfully organized for those who will mourn your passing.