No matter your age, every adult, including yourself, needs to think about end-of-life planning. Far too often, men and women are left picking up the pieces after the unexpected death of their spouse in their 40’s and 50’s and are grieving while trying to make funeral arrangements. Here are some things to keep in mind for yourself as well as for those you love when it comes to these kinds of conversations.
Get Clarity – Choose and Communicate Your Final Wishes
There is one inevitable truth about life—we all die. Whether you want to or not, thinking about—and planning for—end-of-life is a must for every adult, as no one is promised tomorrow. Lifting the burden of decisions off your loved ones at a time of stress and grief is a central goal of declaring these advance decisions. Moreover, this is your opportunity to express your desire for the personalization of your final farewell. Be clear and upfront about your final wishes to your family and friends, who likely bear responsibility for performing your wishes.
“Death has a very black reputation but, actually, to die is a perfectly normal thing to do.”
–Excerpt from “Death” by Joe Brainard
Foundational Decision for Services:
- What final disposition method is preferred? Deciding if buried, cremated, or donated to science is your choice.
- What types of services do you desire to be conducted? Consider options like a funeral, graveside burial, or celebration of life service in celebration of your life.
- Would you like other funeral events to be held? A viewing, wake, visitation, reception, or observance of my religion’s mourning events.
Personalization Decisions Include:
- Do I have pieces of music, poems, prayers, or other reading I want to be included in these events?
- What charitable organization(s) do I prefer memorial donations be directed to?
- Do I wish to draft my own obituary?
- Do I want to write a letter or record a message for those who mattered most to you? Select a caretaker for these communications for future delivery.
- What other elements do I want to request? Request a particular person to deliver a eulogy, and pick specific floral or decorative elements. Select any elements that you wish to not be utilized.
Don’t let these questions go unanswered. Many of your answers might come as a surprise to your loved ones, who are saddled with responsibility for these decisions if you fail to communicate your preferences.
Our advice is both the contemplation and decision-making of your preferences. Remember – we are talking about adulting. Next, the idea for the conversation isn’t necessarily to convey irrevocable decisions, but rather allow others to understand your wishes, or your loved ones’ wishes, and have an idea of what to expect should the time come sooner than later. Sprung from these conversations, you’ll be better informed and able to help your loved one make firm plans for the future.
Is a conversation overwhelming, or are you fearful of expressing preferences ahead of time? A simple written statement of your wishes and desires is an alternative solution. The caveat is that even well-intentioned documents, saved in your draft folders or hidden away, are unlikely to be unearthed in the time of a sudden need.
Gain Focus – Make a Will, Then Keep it Current
Having a Will is the easiest way to let your loved ones know your wishes after you’ve passed. How would you like your estate divided? You’ll need to hire an estate attorney to draft your Will, as well as select an executor whom you trust to administer the affairs of your estate. These affairs include paying outstanding debts, filing and paying taxes, and managing the disposition of any assets. Make sure this person is capable and reliable, as there is more to administering an estate than most people know.
If you already have a Will, keeping it current is a must. Families are constantly changing with births, deaths, marriages, remarriages, divorces, the list goes on. By keeping your Will current (we suggest going over it every three to five years), you’ll have a record of your current executor as well as the correct information needed for the affairs of your estate.
Regardless of Age
No matter your age, talk with your loved ones and practice what you preach. Make sure your own affairs are in order as well. Don’t leave your spouse clueless at a young age as to your wishes after you’re gone. The sad fact is we all die, some of us sooner than later. If you’re prepared, you give your loved ones the best gift in the midst of their grief—peace of mind in knowing they’re carrying out your final wishes.
At Organized Instincts, our seasoned team of daily money managers will clear your calendar of routine financial matters. You’ll gain the necessary mental bandwidth to clean off your reading glasses and get down to decision-making. Before long, you’ll have plans selected, decisions communicated, and prepared for this inevitable life event. Schedule a free conversation today to learn how to create more time and mental space to tackle important decisions.