Planning for End-of-Life: Your End-of-Life Checklist
You may have planned for your next meal or vacation, but have you made your end-of-life plan?
As a people, we are good at making plans. They can run the spectrum of big to small, significant to unimportant. They can range from plans for what we’ll do this weekend to what’s for dinner; plans for where to go to college and which career to choose to where we’ll live; plans from childbirth to who and what our children will become; plans from where we’ll vacation each year to who to invite to our holiday events.
As a people, we are good at making plans for our life, and horrible at making plans for our death. How is it that I spend two hours creating a grocery list and meal plan for the upcoming week, but shudder to think about spending twenty minutes to complete an advance directive?
Death is as certain as the sun rising, regardless of whether it occurs a few hours, years, or decades from now. In the words of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, “To be prepared is half the victory.” To help you be victorious in planning for the end of life, please see my suggestions as well as favorite resources below.
End-of-Life Planning Checklist
- To start, think about your preferences for end-of-life - then discuss your preferences and concerns with your loved ones. You can avoid surprises by having this conversation early and often.
- But don’t just talk about your preferences. Put your end-of-life preferences in writing with advance directives for your state and your funeral preferences in writing with this funeral planning worksheet. Make multiple copies of these documents, and give them to your family members and medical team – as well as anyone else who may be involved in your healthcare or after-death care.
- Learn about end-of-life care services, like hospice care and palliative care – perhaps you will want to take advantage of these services at some point in the future
- If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, talk to your doctor about your treatment options
- Assess your financial situation and learn about the costs of end-of-life and nursing home care
- Create an estate plan that includes financial decisions regarding how you want to give your money and possessions to others upon your death
- Create a financial inventory to help your family manage your affairs once you have died. The inventory includes information about your financial accounts, location of important documents, and online account numbers and passwords.
After reviewing these suggestions and resources, you may be more open and comfortable with taking the necessary steps to develop the most important plan of all: the plan of how you’ll live.
This article was written for the eFuneral Resource Center by Laura Sefcik, MPH, MSW, LISW, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.® Those thinking about end-of-life should visit eFuneral.com for help researching, planning, and arranging a wide variety of funeral-related services.