Post by: Darra Wray, Founder – My Data Diary, LLC
“It is time to put your affairs in order.” If you have ever been present when someone you love has been on the receiving end of these words, you know that it is truly one of the most difficult statements to hear. You also know that it is one of the most overwhelming. After all, what does it really mean “to put your affairs in order”? The tasks required to put your affairs in order center around 4 key areas:
- Healthcare Advance Directives – Make sure that you have identified an individual to serve as your healthcare proxy to make healthcare decisions for you when you are no longer able to make them for yourself. Ensure that you share your wishes and preferences for your care at the end of your life with that person and with your physicians. And, make sure that you have completed all of the necessary legal documents (usually a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney) that will allow your healthcare proxy to speak for you when you no longer can speak for yourself.
- Estate Planning Documents – Consult with your attorney to determine which legal instruments (will, trust, etc.) are most appropriate for you and your loved ones to manage your financial and legal affairs after you are gone. Include your financial advisors in the discussion with your attorney to ensure your assets are appropriately included in your estate planning documents. Make sure that beneficiaries are correctly identified on your financial accounts, insurance policies, and other assets.
- Pre-Planning for a Funeral or Life Celebration – Identify the funeral home who will handle arrangements and make preparations in advance for all of the details. This important step will allow you to ensure that your post-life preferences are honored in the most cost efficient way possible and will minimize some of the difficult decisions your loved ones will have to make after you are gone.
- Legacy Communications – Pen your own obituary to share information from all phases of your life, and choose a picture to accompany the announcement (so you are sure it is one that you like). Consider using some of this precious time to write Legacy Letters to your loved ones to share favorite memories, express your loving thoughts, and express your wishes for their future.
By the time you hear the words “It is time to put your affairs in order”, spending hours and hours poring through the administrative details of your life is absolutely the last thing you want to do. So, to minimize the time needed for these tasks at the end of your life, we recommend that you develop a system or select a solution like the My Data Diary+ family information management tool to help you centralize your important personal and family information and documents.
Putting your affairs in order may feel like an overwhelming task, but it truly is a gift that you can give to your family. Simplifying the administrative details of your life now will make preparing for end of life much less of a burden for you and your family, and it will ensure that your final days are spent together on the things that matter most to all of you.
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor in Boise, Idaho. She founded My Care Companions and My Data Diary, LLC to help family caregivers streamline and simplify the business of life.