End-of-life planning is not just for people who are about to pass away. It is for anyone who wants to ensure they will be cared for when they can no longer care for themselves, and for anyone who wants to care for their loved ones in that process. Here are five critical reasons you should start forming your end-of-life plan today:
1. You don’t know when your life will be altered or come to an end.
We don’t say this to scare you or wave the doomsday flag. We’ve just seen too many worst-case scenarios to keep from mentioning it. You might not be elderly or terminally ill, but tragedies happen to young, healthy people all the time. None of us think it will happen to us or the people close to us, until it does. This alone gives you reason to plan for the possibility that you could either become incapacitated or die unexpectedly.
2. You have planning abilities now that you won’t have in the future
Take advantage of your ability to think and communicate clearly now – you might not have those abilities in the future, depending on what health challenges you face.
Also, things like long-term care insurance require you to sign up in advance; you cannot qualify for it if you are already in a crisis.
3. You will most likely need your end-of-life plan before your life ends.
We advocate for holistic, relational end-of-life plans that can and should be implemented long before your actual death. This means:
- making a plan that will account for all aspects of the latter part of your life, whether it be financial, physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual
- being prepared for both the challenges of aging and the event of your passing
- doing everything you can to care for those who will be affected by your end-of-life process, primarily yourself and your closest loved ones.
- empowering those who you appoint as your decision-makers to know how to best advocate for you when you need them to
A holistic and relational plan is designed to care for you and your loved ones through each stage of the aging process, and will eventually handle the details of your death.
This means that an appropriate end-of-life plan will have all the necessary details in place so that it can begin to act on your behalf the moment you begin experiencing limitations from aging.
For example, you may need help with tasks like mowing your lawn many years before you are facing a terminal illness, but it is still a need that comes with aging and needs to be addressed.
4. There is more to setting up an end-of-life plan than you may think.
There are a lot of details that come along with aging and eventual death! And they may not seem fun to think about, but it is better to plan now and be ready to face challenges as they come than to be in denial and be caught in crisis situations. Your end-of-life plan should include two major parts that can then be broken down into smaller details:
Part Two: A Relational Elder Care Plan
The first is a Relational Elder Care Plan, which prepares you for either gradual or sudden incapacitation. This portion includes addressing things like:
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Advance Medical Directive
- Choosing agents to play various roles in your life
- Long-term care insurance
- Communicating with loved ones about where you will live when you can no longer live alone
- Saving money for potential expenses that come with aging
- Forming a community of professionals (attorney, financial planner, accountant, etc.) to ensure you are not taken advantage of
(Related Article: “Who Should I Choose as My Agent?”)
Part Two: A Relational Estate Plan
The second branch is a Relational Estate Plan, which should protect and provide for your loved ones after your death, avoid family conflict, leave a legacy, preserve special memories, and ease burdens for those closest to you. It entails:
- Using tools like wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations to distribute assets after your death
- Making a legally binding plan for any minor children you may leave behind
- Creating an estate guide and inventory to aid loved ones with practical details of estate administration
- Creating an Ethical Will to pass on your values and beliefs
- Setting aside money and instructions for your funeral and burial
- Choosing an executor or personal representative to administer your estate
- Communicating to loved ones the important things they need to know before you say goodbye
Each part of these two branches of end-of-life planning requires time, forethought, and energy to address. Every individual and their family is different, and what works best for one person might not be a good option for someone else. It’s not impossible, and will make both your life and the lives of those you love much easier in the long run, but it takes work up front.
This is one reason we suggest you seek guidance from an attorney who has relational elder care and estate planning experience and can help you through each step of the process.
5. Your loved ones need you to have an end of life plan in place.
If your loved ones are going to play any type of role in caring for you as you age, they will need the guidance of a Relational Elder Care Plan. If you are in the midst of a crisis, they won’t just automatically know what to do to help you. Take personal responsibility now to set up a plan that will help them help you. This aids you both, as it gives them direction and ensures you will be properly cared for.
Your loved ones will also need guidance about how to deal with your estate once you are gone, but not only that, they also have personal needs that your Relational Estate Plan can help meet.
(Related Article: “Five Ways You Can Help Your Loved Ones with Relational Estate Planning”)
A Relational Estate Plan is self-sacrificial by nature because you will never see its outcome. This kind of plan uses your death as a catalyst to caring for those you love most. It allows you to address the needs you foresee in their lives and leaves them with gifts you won’t watch them receive. But even though you might not see its effects, you can experience the confidence and peace of mind that come with knowing you have done all you could for those you hold dear.
Are you ready to begin strategizing about how to ensure you are cared for and your loved ones are provided for? Contact us today for your free end-of-life planning consultation.