We plan ahead for lots of life events – getting married, making a big move, changing careers, having a child, buying a house. However, the one thing we will all go through someday – dying – tends to get the least amount of attention when it comes to planning ahead. It is not only uncomfortable for many of us to think about, but it can also be hard to know where to start. This article is the first of three designed to break down the planning process to provide a sense of control and organization.
1. Last Will & Testament or Trust: Having a Will in place can be a very simple, but impactful way to ensure things go smoothly after your passing. Since every situation is unique, it is helpful to visit a lawyer for advice and assistance drafting your Will or setting up a Trust. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Many employers provide access to legal advice through Employee Assistance Programs (or EAP).
2. Advance Directives: In moments of crisis and trauma, it is difficult to make clear choices regarding medical care. Seek guidance on these decisions ahead of time and clearly indicate your wishes to ensure your medical decision maker knows exactly what to do if you face a medical event. The Advance Care Planning Team through the Larimer County Health District is a great local resource to help get your Advance Directives in place.
3. Caring Conversations: There is never a better time to share meaningful conversations with those around you than right now. Share stories. Let people know how important they are to you. Talk about your values, your hopes, your regrets, your joys in life. Ask questions, give answers, and engage with people you most care for.
4. Medical/Financial Powers of Attorney: Talk to people you trust and make sure they know your wishes. Then, put it on paper. Designating medical and financial decision-makers will streamline their ability to honor your wishes if the time comes that you are unable to do so on your own. The Advance Care Planning Team is a great resource for this as well.
5. Organize Records: Create a record of your personal affairs and make sure someone knows where to find it; things like bank accounts, insurance policies, credit cards, pensions/retirement accounts, monthly bills, social media and online accounts logins, and contact information for your accountant, lawyer, financial advisor, etc.
6. Discuss Funeral Wishes & Make a Plan: Finally, talk about your wishes for final arrangements. Find out what might bring you and your family comfort, and put together a plan that will do just that. Our funeral directors are available anytime to help provide guidance in a no-pressure environment as you start to make plans for your final arrangements.
While tackling these tasks may seem daunting, keep in mind that there are caring, local professionals to help every step of the way. And know that you will gain comfort and confidence once everything is in place!