End-of-life may be far off, but it’s important to make plans in advance so you are not forced to make decisions under duress.
You may have planned for your next meal or vacation, but have you made your end-of-life plan? Use this checklist to create a comprehensive 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
- 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
- Discuss your preferences and concerns with your loved ones – avoid surprises by having this conversation early and often
- If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, talk to your doctor about your treatment options
- Put your end-of-life preferences in writing with advance directives for your state
- Even after you’ve put your preferences in writing, discuss your choices often with your family and medical team, especially as your condition changes
- Make multiple copies of your advance directives and give them to your family members and medical team – as well as anyone else who may be involved in your healthcare
- Assess your financial situation and learn about the costs of end-of-life care
- Create an estate plan that includes financial decisions regarding how you want to give your money and possessions to others upon your death
- Prepare for incapacity and appoint a durable power of attorney
- 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.
- Plan your funeral or memorial service
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.
For more advice on planning for end-of-life, read our articles on advance directives, end-of-life care, and pre-planning a funeral.
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.