Planning ahead and providing legal documentation of your wishes is extremely important to those you love.  It may be even more important to you if you don’t have family to advocate for you.

The decisions you need to make and document-

  • Medical Power of Attorney  (MPOA) and Advanced Directive
  • Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA)
  • Will and/or Trust, Executor
  • Discuss your decisions with your family and give them copies of the documents.
  • Give your doctor a copy of the MPOA and Advanced Directive, keep one on your refrigerator for Paramedics if 911 Emergency Medical Services are needed.
  • At a certain age, if you do not want CPR if you are found without a pulse, a Do Not Resuscitate document, jointly signed by you and your doctor, should be available for EMS staff (on the refrigerator door), your family,  your doctor.
  • End of Life wishes
  • Funeral arrangements and wishes
  • A directory of your professional advisors, service providers, bank accounts, property, investments, long term care insurance, social media passwords, phone passwords.

Websites that provide additional information about end of life planning

You do not want to be in the hospital intensive care unit, possibly for the last time, surrounded by a loving family without a medical power of attorney and advanced directive, or a will already established.  You don’t want your attorney to be called to your bedside, “just in time”.

Wouldn’t it be better to plan ahead so that your family can participate in the legacy you leave them, experiencing it as a gift rather than a half done project you left for them and hard feelings over money and mementos rather than cherished memories?

Military families are accustomed to being prepared because they can be deployed at any time and the family needs to have a plan. Completing the legal documents for plans in case you cannot speak for yourself is a normal part of military life. Establishing power of attorney documents, advanced directives, wills and/or trusts, and defining your legacy is a normal part of life.

The rest of us, however, can be very resistant to thinking through our wishes. No one wants to think about their death and if your choices would not be popular, it is too easy to put it off.

History shows us that life can surprise us. Traumatic brain injuries, strokes and serious accidents can render a person unable to communicate their wishes. This leaves family members making decisions and the physicians providing care to do their best, without a road map.

Do the hard work necessary. Confer  with your Financial Advisor, meet with your attorney or  find an Elder Law/Estate Planning Attorney to maximize your legacies and determine how you want your wealth and belongings gifted.

Losing you will be hard enough. The stress imposed on family members who must sort out funeral arrangements, distribution of your belongings and money, and resolution of property and legal matters is an unfortunate and lasting legacy.

Don’t be surprised, as you are creating your end of life plan, if your Financial Advisor or Elder Law Attorney recommends that you have a care management assessment.  This will help them understand the potential care you may need and the associated costs.