A good time to think about, write down and share what you would like to have happen upon your death is when you are crafting your advance directives. Talking with friends and family members about your final wishes will give you and those who care about you confidence that when you die, your wishes will be carried out.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you start thinking about your end-of-life planning:
Healthcare at the End of Your Life
If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, what kind of medical care do you want? Do you want hospice or palliative care providers? If so, what are your goals for such care?
Is there a particular family member or friend you would like involved with your care at the end of your life?
If you are able to choose where you will pass away, do you want to die at home or in a healthcare facility? Are there certain people you would like to visit you before you die? Who would you like to be present with you when you pass away?
Even if you have a will outlining who will inherit your possessions, are there certain items such as photographs, family mementos and other keepsakes that you want particular people to have?
If you have pets, who do you want to take care of them after you die?
How do you want your email, social media and other digital accounts handled after you die? Who do you want to take care of these matters?
Are there certain memories, stories and photos from your life and of your family history that you want to make a written, audio or videorecord of topreserve prior to your death?
Philanthropy and Financial Donations
In addition to your family, is there a particular charity that you desire to donate to? Have you contacted a legal or financial advisor to inquire the best method of planning for your donation? Does your family know of your desired donation? Are you aware of the tax regulations which will be applied to your donation? In addition to listing it in your will, there are many different ways to prepare a philanthropic donation. For example, taking out a life insurance policy with the charity as the beneficiary, setting up a private foundation or beginning to give annually right now might be effective ways for you to plan for your donation.
After you pass, is there an organization you would like to direct friends and family to donate to in lieu of sending flowers? If you have experienced a battle with a specific sickness or disease, would you like to request donations be sent to an association or foundation aiding in relevant research? Or perhaps if a long-term health issue has caused a financial burden on your family, would you like to set up a trust to help your family members in the time following your death?
Funeral and Memorial Planning
What do you want done with your body after you die? What are your preferences with regards to cremation, burial, organ donation and donation to science? If you are buried, do you want a grave marker? If you are cremated, do you have a particular place where you’d like your ashes spread?
Do you want a funeral, memorial service, visitation or celebration of life? If so, where would you prefer these be held? Are there particular readings and music you would like to be shared? Is there a certain person you would like to deliver a eulogy? Are there any religious, military or other special considerations you want taken into account? If you have casket, do you want it open?
Do you want an obituary and if so, what do you want it to say? Is there a particular photograph you would like used with it?
These questions can serve as a starting point for making your end-of-life plans and having conversations about your final wishes with the people who care about you.
Through end-of-life planning, you gain peace of mind today and at the time of your death your grieving loved ones are relieved of the additional burden of second-guessing what you may have wanted.
- The Aging Resources Magazine has more information about creating your living will, healthcare power of attorney, will and durable power of attorney.