We plan vacations. We plan weddings. We plan birthday parties. We plan for college. We plan for retirement. We plan our lives. Why should we not plan for our death?
Death is a difficult time for those who love us. Lack of planning on our part means that our loved ones not only have to grieve, but also make a ton of decisions while their minds are clouded, distracted, spinning.
The best gift you can give to your loved ones is to take care of those things ahead of time.
No matter your current age, do you have a will? Have you purchased life insurance (it’s much cheaper to buy it in your 20s than in your 40s or later)? Have you discussed with your family and friends whether you’re an organ donor? Do you know who will make medical decisions for you in case of an accident where you are unable to make decisions for yourself? Do you have an advanced directive?
How many people have already planned their funerals? Picked out music? Maybe written something to be read at your service? Do you want to be buried? Cremated? Donate your body to a research facility?
Yes, these are all difficult decisions to make, and difficult conversations to have. And it’s not just terminal patients who MUST take care of these items. Last time I checked, we ALL die at some point.
Some states allow you to write your own will. Some states you have to have it filed by a lawyer. If you’re going to be buried, have you purchased your plot? Or do you qualify for and plan to be buried in a veteran’s cemetery? If you’re going to be cremated, do you know where? Have you put aside money to pay for these things? If your body will be donated, have you done the preliminary paperwork and set any restrictions?
Are you an organ donor? Most states now allow you to mark that on your drivers license. If yours doesn’t, please let your family and close friends know if you want to be an organ donor.
Do you have a legal power of attorney? Do you have a medical power of attorney?
DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW YOUR WISHES?
A couple years ago, I was the power of attorney for a close friend who not been in contact with his children for over 20 years. He wrote to each of them when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Thankfully all of his children came to see him before he died, but they did not have this conversation about his final wishes. They did not want to follow his desire for cremation, and since his wishes were not listed specifically in his will, all four children had to sign off before his body could be cremated. Unfortunately, this led to a 6 week delay from his death to his interment that he had already paid for.
MORE THAN JUST FINAL WISHES
Does your executor know that they are named in your will? Where are all your bank accounts? Life Insurance Policies? Mortgage? Utilities? Do they know how to contact people named in your will?
Lots to think about…. when you’re planning for the future.