Making plans for the end of life necessities is never at the top of anyone’s to-do list. It is, however, an inevitability that can be made seamless if you choose to be proactive about the process. Follow some of these tips to make the entire undertaking a little bit easier on yourself and your loved ones.
Find Your Final Resting Place
When it comes to deciding where you will be laid to rest, you have a variety of options available. Here are a couple of the most common selections.
- Traditional Burial – If you are looking for a conventional burial, you will need a location to reside for eternity. Use the Cemetery Grave Site Finder to help facilitate your search. You can look for a gravesite, mausoleum, or crypt. Should you already own one of these, this site will help you sell your current location and find one that is more suitable to your current needs.
Perhaps you have moved since the time you first purchased your burial location and wish to be laid to rest near where your family currently resides. The site finder will guide you on how best to sell your site and locate a new one.
- Cremation – When you opt for cremation for your remains, you can still use a traditional burial site (mentioned above) to place your ashes. Other choices for your ashes are to scatter them in places you have lived or in locales you have enjoyed spending time in throughout your lifetime. Depending on your particular religious persuasions or personal preferences, your family may divide your ashes to relocate them to places of honor within their respective homes.
If you feel passionate about organ donation, register with your local DMV when you get your driver’s license or sign up here. After doing so, you need to communicate your decision to your loved ones should the unfortunate occur.
Another option is to participate in a deeded body program at a local medical school. Be sure to read the fine print as some programs will not accept a body donation after an organ donation. With body donation, you will have the chance to help the next generation of medical professionals through essential training.
Watch this video to learn more about organ donation, the transplant process, and how it all works.
Get Your Documents in Order
Part of any end-of-life planning is the preparation of essential documents. You can take care of these documents via an online do-it-yourself service; however, they are very detailed and legally binding. As such, working with a licensed estate planning attorney will be worth the fee. Here is some of the necessary paperwork you will want to prepare:
- Power of Attorney – This is also known as a POA. You should make different ones for healthcare and financial concerns if you have different people acting on your behalf in these areas. A POA is a person who you will appoint as your proxy or agent to make decisions for you when you are no longer able to yourself. Those wishes should be spelled out clearly (see Advance Directive below).
- Advance Directive – This document concerns your wishes regarding end-of-life care and any medical intervention you do or do not want. A Do Not Resuscitate or DNR document can be drawn up at this time if you so choose.
- Will – This is a legally binding document that clearly lists the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children after your death. You can include a trust and bequests in your will.
After you spend so much valuable time and emotional energy with your paperwork and related planning, there are still factors to consider.
- Share Your Information – When your important documents are complete, they may not prove meaningful or helpful if nobody can locate them when needed. To minimize the potential for frustrations, legal issues, or hurt feelings you need to talk with someone to let them know where your documents are stored. Ensure they have a passcode for your safe, a key, or know the location of these for access purposes. Ideally, this person will be your spouse, adult child, or Power of Attorney.
Along with your documents, you should store important account information, user IDs, and passwords, along with any other vital information that will be helpful. Place this in a water and fireproof safe under lock and key or passcode for security purposes.
- Review the Paperwork – Review your paperwork every three to five years so you can reassess your decisions or make changes based on life events. As time passes you may have a change of heart or a change in location that needs updating on your official documents.
If your Power of Attorney is no longer able to act on your behalf, this is a good time to appoint a new one and handle the appropriate paperwork. The amount of time you spend reviewing and updating will be well worth the effort when the information is needed.
Talk With Someone
The act of planning for your death can bring up difficult emotions. When you are feeling overwhelmed, or before you get to that place, make an appointment to talk with someone. You can certainly lean on a friend or family member if you have a good rapport or feel comfortable discussing the topic with them.
Other options for seeking help are your clergy members, mental health professionals, or your primary care physician. Telehealth is a viable choice as you can talk with a provider from the comfort of your home.
The topic of death and the idea of saying goodbye are never easy for anyone. The best way to handle the process is to simply begin. Start slowly with a small task you know you can accomplish. After that, tackle the next item on your agenda, and then just keep going. As you complete more items on your end-of-life planning list, you will begin to feel more at ease with the process.