When I ask people if they have all their ducks in a row for end of life planning, if they say yes they generally mean they have a Will, Power of Attorney, and maybe an Advance Care Directive. If they’re really keen they may also have a spot in the family plot and/or a funeral preplanning package all paid for and stashed away somewhere.
Honestly I am happy if they have ANYTHING in order. But a good, holistic END OF LIFE PLAN contains more than just these few key documents:
- Will (including choice of Executor)
- Power of Attorney (your financial proxy)
- Advance Care Plan/Personal Directive/Protection Mandate (your health/medical proxy)
You also need to cover your ABC’s…
- Assets: Have an up to date list of your stuff, including all your digital assets.
- Body Disposition Plan: Having a preplanning funeral package or final expenses insurance policy is great, but do those who need to know know how you want to go?
- Contact List: Have an up to date contact list . Not just the bank and stakeholders in the estate, but those personal connections you want notified in case of critical illness or death.
- Conversations: Have a plan to carry on ongoing conversations with those who will be part of the process of closing out your life, but also with those who will be impacted/need to know what’s going on.
- Departure Plan: Detail some of your final wishes, including celebration of life planning. Think about photos for your funeral, your death playlist, your eulogy, etc.
- Emergency Funds: Make sure you have readily accessible money put aside for big life changes (illness, injury, job loss).
- Financial Plan: Have something in place for final expenses. Consider also your legacy and if/how you will be looking out for those you love after you’re gone.
Ironically, an end of life plan is a living entity. Your assets, relationships, wealth, health, and values are constantly in flux. Your plan and your conversations around that plan need to keep up with the rate of change in your life.
I recommend taking time to revisit and work on your plan once a year. Tax time is logical, as you are already reviewing your assets. Some people reflect on their deathday on or around their birthday. Whatever works for you, but please do take the time while you have the time, instead of when you need to make time. You won’t regret it, and trust me, thinking about the end won’t make it happen any sooner!