End of Life Planning: Important Components Often Forgotten

December 17, 2022   -  

Like most things, the hardest part of making an end-of-life plan is the beginning. Nobody wants to think about passing away, and the most common approach is to avoid it as long as possible. In a recent survey, 34% said they weren’t sick enough to begin the conversation, 21% said they were too young, and 26% said it was simply too depressing.

Even doctors—for all the familiarity they have with our intimate secrets of health and well-being—are often reluctant to bring up end-of-life planning with patients. There is a natural tendency to view the death of a patient as a failure or admit the limitations of medical science, but the last is critical: they are often unsure who of the patient’s caregivers and family members is in charge of beginning the conversation. 

We all know we need to make a will, but there are many other important aspects of an end-of-life plan that are often overlooked. These details can be major roadblocks for those who bear the responsibility of managing our affairs. Here, we cover some of the lesser-known details that are often forgotten in an end-of-life plan so your loved ones can help you have a smooth and secure transition. 

Create a Comprehensive List of Contacts

Most people who are constructing an end-of-life plan create a simple contact list, but in most cases, these lists actually need to be much longer. Our lives are actually quite complicated, and your loved ones want to respect your wishes to the greatest degree they possibly can.

Make sure you include information on your attorney, your financial advisor, and your workplace so your family can move quickly and efficiently to bring your affairs in order. It can be very helpful to include any groups you belong to where people know you well such as your church, since they may be able to provide important insight to next of kin about your thoughts and wishes in the absence of written answers. 

And of course, remember to add your trusted vet. Not all of your special little ones are your grandchildren, and you want to make sure your pets are as loved and cared for as they have been.

Consider Setting Up a Living Trust

We’ve all heard of living wills, but a living trust can be an important component of an end-of-life plan to ensure a smooth transition of assets for your beneficiaries. Money is hard, and there are countless examples of strained family bonds and litigious upheavals over disputed particulars of a last will and testament.

A living trust seeks to avoid these problems by designating a trustee who will oversee the disbursal of assets and adjudicate any inconsistencies or ambiguities that might exist in your end-of-life plan. Your beneficiaries are going to be understandably upset and emotional at that time, and it’s very helpful to have a calm and impartial voice moderating the process. 

Include Your Digital Legacy 

We are rapidly moving away from the era of lockboxes in banks for our paper birth certificates and important family heirlooms. Most people have several hundred GB of data in the form of pictures, videos, and documents, and that pile is growing every day.

Moreover, it is increasingly common for valuable assets to be managed online, such as bank accounts, securities holdings, and cryptocurrency. Many of these institutions have tools in place that allow you to designate a beneficiary, but if processes are unclear it can mean months of jumping through legal hoops to sort it out. Remember how difficult it was to get your spouse added as an authorized user for your internet service provider? Exactly. Make sure you list accounts, and passwords, and designate beneficiaries both online and in your end-of-life plan for these assets.

Also, it’s so easy to take for granted access to your trusty laptop or smartphone, but these devices can become impenetrable vaults if important family members and executors can’t access them. Remember: your smartphone probably has dozens of passwords for all your accounts already saved, and it can solve many little problems for people managing your estate to have them at their fingertips.  

Have a Plan for Organ Donation

This is a small one for you that can mean the world to someone else. Your decision, either way, is highly personal, but we almost never think about it except when we make a literal gut decision at the DMV once a decade. Give it some thought and add it to your plan.

Revisit Your Plan Periodically

Finally, things change a lot over the years, and it’s important to make your end-of-life planning an ongoing process.  Managing our own mortality is stressful and even a little scary, and it’s very tempting to think that once we’ve faced it we never have to think about it again.

Take a moment and consider this: what would your last will and testament look like if you wrote it 20 years ago? How many things would be different? You probably could have never dreamed of being where you are today, much less the digital world in which we now live or the world this will all become.

End-of-life planning is an ongoing process; revisit it periodically, and speak with your estate managers and financial planners for more information on how often to have the conversation. 

Planning for Tomorrow Today with The Postage

We know how challenging and complex estate planning can be, and The Postage wants to make your journey as smooth and streamlined as possible with a portfolio of online estate planning services. 

Our services include will creation, legacy planning, and digital lockbox data storage to ensure your end-of-life planning process is secure, clear, and simple for your loved ones who will carry your memories with them forever.