It may not be a topic you want to discuss or even think about, but planning for your final days is important. At the end of the day, you never know when sudden illness may incapacitate you. It is always good to be prepared.
An end-of-life planning checklist not only helps to ensure that your wishes are heard, it also protects your loved ones from needing to make difficult medical decisions for you. Even if you are a current policyholder looking for the cash value of life insurance, this checklist can help you better understand your life insurance policy.
Here is everything an end-of-life planning checklist should include.
Why Do You Need An End-Of-Life Planning Checklist?
If you were to face a crisis, would your loved ones know what medical decisions regarding nursing homes, life support, or long-term care options you prefer? As uncomfortable as it may be, at the end of the day, an end-of-life planning checklist can make a difficult time much easier on your loved ones.
Besides, the family you took care of in life can still be looked after depending on the type of life insurance you have. In a crisis, funds for your healthcare can even be covered if you sell your policy for more than the cash value of life insurance – so how you plan matters.
If you have children or a spouse, estate planning is all the more important in order to make sure they are provided for. Who is going to care for your children?
How will your husband or wife make ends meet? How will you pay for healthcare expenses if you need them? Do you need a life insurance policy? No matter what your situation is, it is a wise financial decision to make plans for the future and to review them regularly if your situation changes.
We have provided this end-of-life planning checklist to narrow in on some of the questions you might want to think about.
Healthcare End-Of-Life Planning Checklist
Thinking about death is scary enough, but it is terrifying to think about being in an accident, being injured, on life support, or succumbing to an illness that leaves us unable to communicate our wishes. That is why having a healthcare end-of-life plan is important so that your wishes will be heard loud and clear.
Long-Term Care Decisions To Ensure Your Best Life and Long-term Care
If you are ever to require long-term care, be it full-time or part-time, you will have some decisions to make. Do you want to go into a nursing home? Which nursing home would you like to go to? Would in-home care be a better option for you in the case of terminal illness?
Life Support Instructions For Your Loved Ones
This is a very personal decision and one you don’t want to leave to your loved ones who are already worried about you. You can leave very clear instructions about whether or not you want machines used to prolong your life (for example, ventilators or feeding tubes). You can also determine at what point you would like to be taken off of life support. You can outline your wishes in an advanced care directive or a living will.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders about life support are integral to your end-of-life planning checklist
Perhaps one of the most significant healthcare decisions you will want to make for yourself is a DNR (or Do Not Resuscitate) order. Any medical or healthcare professionals are required to attempt to use CPR or any other life-saving procedure to resuscitate you unless you have a DNR in place.
Healthcare Decision Authority Matters At The End of the Day
While the authority to make important healthcare decisions usually falls to the spouse or whoever your next-of-kin is, you may have someone else in mind. A medical Power of Attorney or a health care proxy allows you to decide who will be making those decisions for you if you can’t.
Organ Donor Decision
The decision whether or not to donate your organs in the case of death is one that you probably have very strong feelings about. Your loved ones may not feel the same way as you do. This is something that should be included in any estate planning documents you have drawn up.
Financial End-Of-Life Planning Checklist
It’s important to make sure your financial situation is in order in case of death or incapacity. Issues such as whether or not you have a life insurance policy, death benefits, and who your beneficiaries are can make life very difficult for your loved ones at an already difficult time.
Financial Power of Attorney
What happens if you are no longer able to make financial decisions? Leaving your financial well-being in the hands of someone else is difficult to stomach. A financial power of attorney gives someone a great deal of power, so you will want to think it through carefully and make sure you choose someone that you can really trust and who you know will be able to make good choices for you.
Will or Trust
Having a will in place allows you to choose what happens with your assets upon your death. While your spouse or next-of-kin usually becomes your beneficiary by default, it is still wisest to have a will or trust in place to make your wishes clear and legal.
If you are wondering whether you should have a will or a trust, it really just depends on your needs. A will is easier but more time-consuming as it has to pass through a probate court. Trusts cost more but they are faster and more ideal for individuals who are concerned about privacy or have a high net worth.
Life insurance policy
A life insurance policy is used to ensure the financial well-being of your beneficiaries by paying out a death benefit upon your passing. There are two types of policies to choose from.
A whole life insurance policy and a universal life insurance policy both remain in effect permanently for as long as you live. A term life insurance policy only lasts for a limited time and provides protection at a specific premium rate for an agreed upon term before the premiums increase, usually annually. Term policies tend to be less expensive, but the policies are not designed for lifetime coverage.
Keep in mind that the beneficiaries named in your insurance policy supersede any will or trust you draw up. It is possible to cash in on your current life insurance policy with a settlement payout if you need the money while you are still living. The sale of a life insurance policy was formerly called a viatical settlement but is now called a life settlement.
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You want to make sure that all of your real estate records are in order. Include instructions for what you want to be done with the property, how you want the proceeds distributed, and information about any outstanding mortgages or liens on the property or properties.
Your estate planning documents should also include a listing of all your bank accounts. This makes it easier for your loved ones and saves them the work of searching for the information themselves. Make sure your will includes what is to be done with these assets.
Investments and other assets
Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and any other investment information including valuable items (art, jewelry, collectibles) should be listed in your documents along with instructions for what is to be done with them. Make sure these are also included in your will.
Your debts remain upon your death, and your beneficiaries will need to settle them. You can make this process a great deal easier by including a list of all debts including credit cards, loans, mortgages, or other outstanding debts you owe. For your loved ones’ benefit, it is always best to try to have as much debt paid off as possible before your passing.
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Funeral End-Of-Life Planning Checklist
Burial or cremation instructions
Leave a list of specific instructions outlining your wishes for cremation or burial, where you want to be buried, even what you want to be placed on your tombstone if you desire.
If you know where you would like to be buried, it may be a good idea to purchase your plot ahead of time. This way you not only get to choose where you are laid to rest, but you can also save your loved ones some time and money. Make sure this information is included with your estate planning documents.
Funerals have many elements from location, to music, to the casket, or even what you will wear. Take some of the guesswork out of the equation for your loved ones and list out the details of what you want for your funeral.
Even the simplest funeral and burial expenses can be expensive, costing $10,000 and up. There are many options for taking care of this including a life insurance policy, or possibly having a pre-paid funeral plan. If you have invested in a funeral plan or funeral insurance, make sure the documents are included in your estate planning package.
It may sound morbid, but you might even want to write your own obituary, detailing who you want to be mentioned and where you would like to have it published.
Who do you want notified in the event of your death? How will your family contact them? Make sure to leave a list of people and contact information in your estate planning documents and keep it up to date.
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End-Of-Life Planning Checklist Documents Summary
We’ve gone through a lot of information, and it can start to feel overwhelming. Now that you have gone through your end-of-life planning checklist, here is a brief list of the estate planning documents you will want to have organized:
- Will or trust
- Living will
- Long-term care directives
- Healthcare proxy or healthcare power of attorney
- Financial power of attorney
- List of financial assets and debts
If you are finding yourself confused or overwhelmed by doing your own estate planning, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. Some of these documents are important legal papers that you may need to hire an attorney to help with. When it comes to planning your estate, you don’t want to cut corners, because a mistake could cause a lot of problems and extra work for your loved ones.
Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Odds are you aren’t going anywhere any time soon, but a little preparation now can give you peace of mind for years to come.
Don’t lose your lifelong investment. Discover your policy’s value today.