Clarity about your last wishes before a crisis is a real gift of love
Most folks just don't make preparations before dying. Preparing means communicating with relatives and other loved ones – and it’s really hard.
Here is a metaphor that might encourage you to plan for when you’re no longer here: first responders train for life-threatening situations. They rehearse responses and how to communicate with team members.
Generally, families don't do that. When a crisis strikes, loved ones wing it amidst stress and confusion.
We know serious accidents and life-threatening illnesses can strike. Shouldn’t we communicate our wishes to our loved ones, our potential caregivers, before a crisis?
Given the certainty that you will die, shouldn't your loved ones know how to respond? Do they know what you want and expect of them?
Where to Start
Start with an up-to-date power of attorney – where you appoint someone else as your legal agent when you can’t manage your affairs – for assets and health care and address the many questions. Let’s say you can’t make decisions at the end of your life.
Do you know:
- Who manages your financial and business affairs?
- Who accesses funds to finance your care?
- Where does the money come from?
- Did you create a plan with a financial advisor?
- Are you realistic about costs?
- Can your designated agent locate all of your accounts? Passwords?
- Who’s your alternate if your primary designee cannot act?
- Who makes medical decisions if you can’t?
- Does he or she know your wishes regarding the end of your life?
- Does your agent have a copy of your power of attorney for health care and your advanced directive, which spells out your end-of life medical care wishes?
- What about religious considerations?
- Do you want to stay alive using machines, feeding and hydration?
Suppose you go to a rehab facility or care home. Medicare provides limited benefits: What covers the rest of your expenses? Who cares for your spouse or significant other? Suppose you cannot live at home any longer. What happens to your house or other real estate?
If you’re disabled, do you remodel your home? How much does that cost? If you cannot drive, how do you get around? Who provides transportation? Coordinates doctors’ appointments? Administers medications?
What funeral arrangements do you want? Where will you be buried? Cremated? Where do you want your ashes scattered? Do you want a traditional funeral or a celebration of life service?
Do you have veterans’ benefits? Are you entitled to military honors? Does your caregiver know where your military papers are kept?
This just scratches the surface of inevitable questions. Consider a family meeting, to help answer some of these questions. Because clarity about your wishes before a crisis is a gift of love.