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Is Your End of Life Paperwork in Order?

When contemplating our mortality, discussions surrounding end-of-life documents may not be uplifting or pleasant.  However, they are crucial in ensuring our wishes are respected, and our loved ones are supported when the time comes.  Furthermore, these vital documents serve as a roadmap, guiding decisions related to medical care, financial matters, and the distribution of assets.  We will delve into the significance of end-of-life documents and provide practical guidance to organize them effectively.  By addressing these matters now, you can gain peace of mind and spare your family unnecessary stress during an already emotionally challenging period.  Leave a legacy that reflects your values and desires.

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Create a Will

A will is a legal document outlining how you want your assets distributed after passing.  It allows you to designate beneficiaries, specify funeral arrangements, and appoint an executor to fulfill your wishes.  Creating a will ensures that your estate is handled according to your preferences and can help prevent conflicts among family members.

woman reading paperwork at desk

Establish a Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, a power of attorney (POA) designates someone to act on your behalf.  This trusted individual can make important financial and medical decisions when you cannot do so.  Select someone you trust implicitly and discuss your wishes and expectations with them.

Designate a Healthcare Proxy

Similar to a power of attorney, a healthcare proxy or medical power of attorney grants someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.  This person should be aware of your medical preferences, such as end-of-life care, and be capable of advocating for your wishes.

Organize Important Documents

Gather and organize essential documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, insurance policies, property deeds, and financial account information.  Store these documents in a secure location and inform your loved ones about their whereabouts.  Consider using a digital password manager or a physical safe for added security.

Communicate Your Wishes

It’s essential to have open and honest conversations with your loved ones about your end-of-life wishes.  For example, discuss your preferences regarding life-sustaining treatments, funeral arrangements, and organ donation.  By sharing your desires, you can ensure that your loved ones are aware of your wishes and can fulfill them when the time comes.

Consider Advance Directives

Advance directives, such as a living will or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, inform healthcare professionals of your medical treatment preferences.  These documents outline your wishes regarding life support, resuscitation efforts, and other medical interventions.  Consult with your healthcare provider or an attorney to ensure these documents are legally binding and reflect your desires accurately.  In addition to advance directives, another important document to consider is a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).  A POLST is a more specific version of a DNR and provides instructions to healthcare professionals regarding the level of medical intervention you desire.  Unlike a living will that informs but does not instruct, a POLST form directly guides your physician on what actions to take.

It’s important to note that the terminology and specific form names may vary depending on your state.  Find more information here.

Review and Update Regularly

Life circumstances change, so it’s crucial to review and update your end-of-life paperwork periodically.  Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and significant financial changes can all impact your plans.  So make it a habit to revisit your documents every few years or after significant life events to ensure they align with your current wishes and circumstances.

Take the necessary steps to organize your end-of-life paperwork.  Start by creating a living will, considering a DNR order or POLST, and designating a healthcare proxy.  Then, check out this comprehensive guide, “Get It Together,” available in our Shop.  Take control of your future today and ensure your end-of-life paperwork is in order.  Your loved ones will thank you for it.

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