Creating an end of life plan is not something we like to think about, but it is vital to have in place for you and your family. Taking the time now to outline your wishes can take a huge burden off of both yourself and your loved ones when that inevitable transition takes place. Whether you are newly retired or an experienced life-long retiree, creating an effective End Of Life Plan doesn’t need to be overwhelming. This blog post will provide easy-to-follow steps to help you create your own End Of Life Plan to meet your individual needs.
1. Make A List Of Your Assets And Debts
Being prepared for the end of life is an important step you can take to ensure that everything is taken care of. Making a list of your assets and debts, including bank accounts and investments, is critical in order to make sure your estate is properly allocated.
Establishing a plan for what will occur with each item upon your passing can save time and hassle for those in charge of executing your wishes. Be sure to consider all assets, bank accounts and investments when making a list of assets and debts in your planning documents. Also, include any information you have on a life insurance policy, health insurance or any other insurance providers that could be relevant.
This information can help determine who should receive the assets after you pass, as well as have the proper paperwork lined up so that things go smoothly. By taking the time to do some financial planning now and creating this list when you are of sound mind, you can rest assured that your plan is prepared in case anything happens down the road.
2. Decide Who Will Handle Your Estate
When making an end-of-life plan, deciding who should handle your estate after you pass away is an incredibly important step to take. It is essential not just to ensure that all financial and legal requests are followed but also to make sure that the person handling your estate knows and understands your wishes so that they can best fulfill them.
The right executor should be someone you trust implicitly to make decisions on your behalf with honesty and integrity. Although anyone can be appointed as an executor (such as a friend, family member or professional fiduciary), it’s critical to discuss with those who might be chosen beforehand so that no one will be surprised or unprepared when you pass away. An ideal executor should be organized, financially responsible and willing to take on responsibility during a difficult time. You will want to finalize a legal document, also known as a power of attorney, that states you allow someone to act on your behalf, whether that is in regard to decision-making in financial, legal or healthcare decisions.
3. Create A Medical Directive For End-Of-Life Medical Care
As you create your end of life plan, you’ll also need to create an advanced medical directive to ensure your wishes regarding end-of-life care are respected. This protects your loved ones from the difficult task of making medical decisions on your behalf without knowing what you would have wanted.
Whether it’s outlining the healthcare treatments you do/don’t wish to receive, naming a healthcare proxy that is authorized to make these decisions for you if needed, or specifying any religious or cultural practices that should be observed in the event of your death, having a clear advance directive plan in place will provide much-needed peace of mind to both you and your loved ones.
Advance care planning allows you to control how you decide to spend your final days and what medical treatment or quality of life you wish to have if it comes to that. Outlining your end-of-life wishes helps your family know if you want a nursing home or hospice care, life-sustaining treatment or alternative medical orders if you are not of sound mind to make the decision for yourself. Also, be sure to include information about organ donations to help your family and medical professionals know how to proceed in difficult times.
4. Make Funeral/Memorial Service Arrangements
Taking the time to make arrangements for funeral/memorial service preferences and final resting place is an important step in your End of Life Plan. Whether you’d prefer cremation or a conventional or green burial, the decisions you make now can help ensure that your wishes are respected at the end of your life.
It’s also important to consider where you’d like any remains or ashes to be interred; if a certain cemetery, funeral home or specific funeral plans are preferred, research must be done ahead of time to learn what services they offer and other details that may be important to know. Making these decisions in advance gives you peace of mind now, so that hard decisions about funeral arrangements don’t have to be made by those left in mourning.
5. Donate Unneeded Belongings Or Money To Charities
Another aspect of planning involves getting rid of possessions that you no longer need or may not want someone else to inherit. Have you ever considered donating these items to your favorite charities or causes? Contributing what you’re no longer using can be a great way to give back, even after life has passed. Gather any belongings like furniture, clothes, organizational supplies, and money, find out which organizations would benefit most from them, and do something meaningful with items that have served their purpose.
6. Review Tax Implications Of Your Estate Plan With A Professional Accountant
When creating an end of life plan, it is critical to review the tax implications with a professional accountant. Since estate taxes vary from state to state, understanding the financial impact on your heirs is an important part of making sure your plan fulfills your wishes. Taxes ranging from income tax to capital gains tax can easily play a role in determining how much money is left for those you are leaving behind.
Do You Have Your End Of Life Plans?
Creating an end of life plan is a difficult but important task. Taking the time to consider your wishes for your funeral and medical care is something that every individual should do. While it can be daunting to think about, being prepared and having a plan in place ensures that your final wishes are carried out exactly as you see fit.
Additionally, planning ahead and consulting with experts such as advisors or accountants to understand taxes and liabilities associated with your estate gives you greater peace of mind knowing that those closest to you will not have to worry about complex financial matters during a difficult time. The six steps outlined in this post are simple tools to use when creating an end-of-life plan. So take the time today and create your own personalized end-of-life plan.
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