The best thing you can ever give someone you love is peace of mind. Stress and uncertainty can take a toll on all of us, the comfort and reassurance that comes from a well thought out plan can go a long way of relieving the burden.
- Update Your Will. Hire an attorney who will really take the time to explain the documents to you. Make sure your documents are up to date and make sense to you.
- Discuss Your End of Life Health Care Preferences. While you still can, share your preferences with your loved ones on how you would like to be treated. What type of pain management would you want? Would you want a feeding tube? What quality of life is important to you? And then get a Health Care Directive – put those preferences in a legal document and/or give someone else the authority to make decisions for you.
- Plan Your Funeral. I don’t necessarily mean you have to plan every detail, or do an official pre-plan, but at least talk about what type of services you would like your family to have. Are there any special songs, prayers, poems, or Scripture you would like to have included? A certain place you would like the services held? A certain person to perform the service or give a eulogy? Do you want to be buried or cremated? If you are cremated, what do you want done with your cremains? Talk to your loved ones about the funeral may be paid for and your expectations. (Let them know when it may be okay to go with the budget model and when you would expect them to splurge a bit).
- Talk To Your Family. Again and again. As a lawyer, I have to tell you how important it is to have the enforceable legal documents. Your wishes may not be legally enforceable without the proper legal documents, and it truly is important to go through the proper channels to ensure your wishes will be followed. But as a granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife, and friend, I cannot stress enough the importance of having these conversations, making the plans, and expressing your wishes. Don’t think that having ‘The Talk’ once is enough. “Dad told me once that he wanted ___” is totally different than “Dad always told me he wanted ______.” That feeling of peace of mind your loved ones will have when they KNOW they are making arrangements and decisions according to your wishes is more valuable than anything else you can leave behind.