Planning for one’s own passing away is not something anyone wants to think about, but doing so can serve as a final gift to loved ones and lift a burden from their shoulders. A recent article in The New York Times addresses some of the issues involved in what is known as “Death Planning.” It goes well beyond your wishes regarding your funeral, your gravesite, the disposition of your remains, and related areas of your final “send off.” Death planning also involves decisions that need to made by loved ones while you are still alive.
For starters, the issue of medical disability must be addressed. If you become incapacitated, who will make decisions for you? Not just financial decisions, but medical decisions. Advance directives, such as powers of attorney, are essential in this regard.
But what about an end-of-life situation? A living will allows you to tell your loved ones what steps you would like taken to keep you alive if you fall into a coma or are faced with the prospect of extraordinary measures needed to keep you alive. For example, if your heart stops, do you want to be resuscitated? Or, would you want a feeding tube?
The Times article points out that your instructions must be as specific as possible and not stored with other estate planning documents (if they are, loved ones might not find them until after you have passed away). Rather, you need to let loved ones, friends, your attorney, and other trusted advisors know where your living will is located. Better yet, you should discuss its contents in advance with all interested parties.
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