Preparing for Death
It's natural to avoid contemplating one's mortality. Many of us spend a great deal of time planning vacations, parties, and investments, but we rarely put in the same effort to prepare for death. Making preparations in advance can ensure that your final days are peaceful and that your loved ones are not unduly burdened. Regardless of your age or health, here are some things you can do to prepare for death.

1. Think About Your End-of-Life Wishes

It is never too early to consider your wishes if you are involved in an accident or diagnosed with a severe illness. Would you like to be in a hospital receiving every available treatment? Do you still wish to pursue every possible treatment if you've been diagnosed with an incurable illness? Would you like to pass away at home?

Most individuals want to die at home. Hospice provides in-home care to terminally ill patients with a life expectancy of six months or fewer; however, only half of the terminally ill patients receive hospice care. It is essential to consider your preferences so that you can advocate for them when the time comes.

2. Prepare a Will
Most Americans, especially those under 50, are without a will. However, catastrophe can strike at any age, and most adults over 18 should have at least a rudimentary plan.

A will is a legal document that expresses your final wishes. For instance, what should happen to your property? Who should be the guardian of your children? Who do you trust to carry out your final wishes? A will addresses these issues and appoints a person to administer your affairs (your executor) so that your loved ones are not left to speculate about your wishes. You may also provide your funeral wishes if you so choose.

Individuals without children, property, or substantial possessions should consider creating an essential will. Some individuals write their own or fill out an internet template. Those with complex financial situations, such as naming guardians for young children, establishing trusts, or planning for numerous generations, generally retain an estate planning attorney. Working with a professional ensures that your will was drafted correctly, considering all tax considerations and legal requirements.

3. Consider Funeral Planning in Advance
If you don't want your grieving family to have to organize your funeral, try planning it as a gift.
Here are some considerations to make:

  • Do you wish to be buried? If so, you can purchase a cemetery plot in advance.
  • Would you prefer cremation over burial? A funeral home can assist you in arranging the details.
  • Would you prefer to pay in advance for your funeral arrangements? This ensures that your loved ones will not have to spend thousands of dollars out-of-pocket while they await the distribution of your assets under your will.
  • Do you have any specific requests for the funeral or memorial service?
Please share your desires with your loved ones and include specific instructions in your will if you want them to be done.

4. Fill Out Your Medical Directives
What type of medical treatment do you desire if you cannot communicate your preferences? It would be best to talk about this with your family. Even better would be to document it in an official form so you can avoid costly court actions and having someone appointed to settle your affairs. Most adults should carry these documents:

  • Advance Health Care Directive (Living Will) - This document specifies the types of medical treatment you desire. For instance, are specific therapies (such as feeding tubes, resuscitation, or dialysis) that you would prefer not to receive? Or do you wish to exhaust every possible treatment? Do you want to donate your organs?
  • Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney (Medical Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy) – This agreement designates a person to speak on your behalf in case of an accident, illness, or another incapacity. In addition, they can make medical decisions not covered in your living will, study your medical records, and file for Medicare on your behalf. In some states, a living will include a medical power of attorney designation.
  • Financial Power of Attorney — In addition to a healthcare power of attorney, you may consider a general power of attorney. This someone can manage your financial and legal affairs if you become incapacitated or ill. There are various sorts of powers of attorney, depending on the circumstances. Numerous individuals choose a durable power of attorney, allowing your agent to take over your finances as soon as necessary and continues until your death. When you die, the power of attorney rights expire. If you choose a separate individual as executor in your will, the executor assumes control of your financial affairs upon your passing.
You can have an attorney help you do this or find your state's forms online and fill them out yourself. Some documents require the signatures of two witnesses and a notary's seal. Make that your family, physician, and designated agents have a copy.

5. Get Your Finances in Order
Once your goals are outlined in your will, you should look over whether your loved ones have access to the necessary resources to fulfill your requests. Typically, one member of the household handles all financial matters. If something unforeseen happens to them, the remainder of the family is left to fend for themselves.

Your loved ones must know the location of your life insurance and retirement plans if you have any. Your debts and expenses, such as mortgages, vehicle loans, and credit cards, should be consolidated into a single location. This will reduce the strain on your loved ones. Include real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, life insurance, and investments in the same manner. A financial advisor can help with the organization.

6. Organize Your Digital Life
Your loved ones will require access to essential online information like bank accounts. Additionally, they must be able to disable specific services, such as your Facebook profile. It is most convenient for your family if you keep a list of your accounts, usernames, and passwords in a safe deposit box or an online password manager, along with instructions on managing those accounts. Otherwise, individuals may be required to provide identification, a death certificate, and other details to gain entry.

You can collect any more paperwork that may be necessary to manage your affairs. Examples include birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce or adoption paperwork, social security cards, and Medicare/Medicaid numbers. You can store everything in a folder or other centralized location and inform a trusted loved one of its location or the person to call when the time comes.

7. Review Your Plan
You may need to evaluate and revise your plan and support documentation periodically. When significant life events occur, such as marriage, birth, divorce, inheritance, or the death of a loved one you've designated executor or beneficiary, you should reassess your strategy for preparing for death.

8. Communicate, Share, and Learn
If you are preparing for the death of a parent or other loved one, this may be an appropriate moment to reflect on your life. For instance:

  • Document their life tales, common sayings, and favorite dishes.
  • Discuss how they would like their loved ones to honor them or what they would like them to say or do.
  • Reminisce on the past and say whatever must be spoken while the opportunity still exists.
  • Share your experiences and memories. This can bring closure to the dying individual and help loved ones create memories they will cherish during the grief process.

In addition to getting to know one another, this may be an excellent opportunity to familiarize yourselves with common end-of-life symptoms. Each individual's journey is unique, yet death is a natural process that typically follows predictable stages. Knowing what to expect might help you prepare for death and provide comfort to your loved one.

Hospice provides end-of-life care for the entire family, including assistance with the supervision of a terminally ill loved one and long-term planning. This form of care enables families to spend more time with one another and create more memorable moments. If you would like to learn more about hospice, you can contact us.

Preparing for death is not a process that most people look forward to, but it can help you avoid additional stress at an already trying time and guarantee that your loved one's wishes are carried out. With a bit of forethought, you may assist your loved ones in preparing for their demise and demonstrate how to do it with love and dignity.

impathi 2023