Understanding the Importance of End-of-Life Planning
No one wants to think about dying — whether it be themself, friends, or family members. But eventually, life catches up to all of us someday. Unfortunately, many people avoid the subject altogether and don’t make an effort to start the end-of-life planning process for when the time comes. Consequently, that burden too often falls upon those left behind when they should instead be grieving the loss of a loved one.
In this article, we’ll provide you with:
- 3 benefits of advance care planning; and
- 5 tips for creating a plan that works for you.
We want to equip you with the knowledge and perspective you need to take care of your affairs so you can enjoy life without having to worry about what happens after.
3 Tremendous Benefits of Advance Care Planning
If you’ve ever made plans and preparations for an event — even simply creating a to-do list for the day — you know how helpful it can be. Seeing the steps and procedures laid out in front of you gives you clear guidelines of what needs to happen for you to achieve success. And those plans definitely help relieve stress and anxiety because you don’t have to keep about every single step only in your head.
End-of-life plans work just the same. However, the only difference is you’re setting out specific preparations for others in the event you become incapacitated or have died. We believe there are three principal benefits to preparing your end-of-life plans now.
1. You’re in Charge
It’s your life. You should be able to determine what happens to your body as you approach the end of your life and after you die. By developing a detailed list of what you DO and DO NOT want to happen when you die, you give everyone involved a greater peace of mind. This can include the specifics about how you want to be treated, the care you want to receive, and what you want people to do upon your death. You will be in control.
2. Your Loved Ones Don’t Have to Think
Not only will you be leaving this life on your terms, but your loved ones can rest easy knowing your wishes have been respected and taken care of. It’s crucial that you have these plans because of how emotionally and psychologically fraught this situation will be for your loved ones. Knowing exactly what to do and when helps ease the stress your loved ones feel when the moment arrives. They should mourn, not worry about insurance, wills, and other funeral planning details.
3. It Helps with Life Organization
Making plans in advance before you die will help you collect your thoughts, possessions, and key life documents. While this seems like a boring step, it might be the most important. Studies show that if you did nothing in advance, it could take your loved ones hundreds of hours to assemble and process all of the paperwork associated with your life. Thus, the more you do in advance of passing, the better your family, friends, and estate will be.
5 Tips for Effective End-of-Life Planning
Now that you understand how planning for the end of your life is important, we have some tips for constructing those plans.
1. Make Health Decisions
In many situations, you will be cognizant and functioning well-enough to address these issues yourself at the moment. But that might not always be the case, which is the reason you’re doing this end-of-life planning. You need to think about what might happen to you if you can’t answer for yourself and someone else needs to do so.
The decisions you need to make can be broken down into two primary categories:
- What you want to happen if you pass away slowly, whether from a terminal illness or natural causes
- What you want to happen if you pass away quickly, such as a tragic accident
With the first category, you need to think about questions, such as:
- Do you want to go to a nursing home?
- Would you want to die at home or in a hospital?
- Would you want to undergo prolonged treatments even if the chance of success is small and they lower your quality of life?
With the second category, you need to focus primarily on this question:
- To what level do you want to undergo life-saving treatment?
In other words, if all that’s keeping you alive after an accident is a feeding tube, oxygen mask, and other machines, do you want to continue with that — even if there’s no hope of recovery without that assistance?
We recommend you investigate two specific forms to learn more about your options and the decisions you need to make:
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order
- Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatments (POLST)
It’s essential you know the choices you have so you can make the right decisions on your terms. Please do not leave them for your family.
2. Make Funeral Plans
It only seems morbid to plan your own funeral because we’re not used to talking about death. But in reality, organizing your funeral can be quite liberating. You get to decide what happens with your body after you die and how your family and friends will commemorate your life. Available options and features include:
- Type of ceremony
- What happens to your body
This is truly your day! Besides, it will be easier for your loved ones to mourn your loss if they don’t have the stress of creating your funeral without any knowledge of your wishes.
3. Create Your Will
When we use the term “estate planning,” we’re not talking about people with wealth, property, and possessions. We’re talking about everyday people and their everyday things. Writing a will specifies what you want to happen with your things, especially family heirlooms, treasured items, and pets. You also need to determine who will care for any minor children you might have and specify an executor who will take care of any financial matters in your life.
No matter how much or how little you own — even if you are single and childless — you need a will that specifies what you want to do with your things when you die.
4. Talk to Your Loved Ones
With your plans underway, it’s time to speak with your family and friends about what you’re doing. While you don’t have to discuss with them every single detail about your end-of-life planning, you should share some of the big items, including whether or not you want to be resuscitated or receive life-sustaining treatment. This will prevent them from getting a big shock later. You should also reveal your plan’s location to a small handful of people so that they know where to find it if something happens to you.
5. Talk to Experts
By “experts,” we’re talking about accountants, attorneys, doctors, and similar professionals. Yes, the internet is full of wonderful information and intuitive do-it-yourself platforms, but sometimes, you need to speak to people who work with health, the law, and finances for a living. While such consultations will cost money, you will come away with clear directions and guidelines about how to proceed with your end-of-life plans.
End-of-Life Planning Protects You and Helps Your Family
There we have it. You’re well on your way to codifying your wishes for when you pass away. Again, this is not a morbid or grim exercise, but you also don’t make an end-of-life plan because it’s a fun thing to do. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.
At The Postage, we feel this an essential task every adult should first complete and then periodically update when your life and circumstances change. Doing so is in your best interest and also helps your loved ones in the event of your death. You’ll be glad you did it now instead of thinking about this stuff for the first time at the absolute worst time.
Create your free profile with us today, upload your end-of-life care plan, and assign the delegates who will be responsible for seeing that your wishes are followed.