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Planning for your final wishes may be a difficult thing to think about. Even if you've thought about it, you may not have communicated it to your loved ones, or know where to start. Even though for most people, this subject is a difficult one to think about, talk about, and complete, it is extremely important. In addition, thinking about this sensitive topic when you are healthy and able to speak for yourself is a huge gift not only to yourself, but to your loved ones as well. Furthermore, discussing your wishes when your loved ones are not in state of crisis and setting expectations in advance can help ease some of the stress during what will likely be a very difficult time.
A recent article by Well + Good magazine discussed this topic and provided excellent insight. Patrick Hicks, JD, general counsel at Trust & Will said in the article, “If you indicate clearly [to family members], ‘Here is my plan,’ then everyone can get on the same page, and it’s harder for someone to feel like they’re getting cheated.” If you are considering having a discussion with your loved ones or have already decided to do so, estate planning attorneys suggest covering the following topics:
End-of-Life Wishes: Topics covered here can include what your wishes are in the event that you become incapacitated or terminally ill, how you'd like your body to be handled in the event of your death, and more. In addition, it is important to share with your loved ones where they can find the documents outlining your end-of-life wishes.
Who Will Handle What When Death Nears: Discussing the logistics of who will handle what as death nears and after you pass can help avoid confusion and conflict. Roles to consider designating can include financial and healthcare agents under your powers of attorney and the executor or executors of your will.
Who to Call in the Event of an Accident: If you were in an accident or had a medical emergency and were incapacitated or passed away, would your loved ones know who to contact or how to contact them? Having a list of the family members and friends you'd like contacted, along with their contact information, as well as your accountant and insurance agent's contact information, if applicable, is helpful information to convey. It is also important to share where your loved ones can find this information in the event that they need to access it.
Sentimental Assets: Sentimental assets that may not have a lot of monetary value can sometimes be left out of a will. These items, however, are often the items that are the most contentious among loved ones. Being sure to include these items in your will, and communicating these wishes to your loved ones ahead of time, can give a lot of piece of mind to you, and let your loved ones know what to expect in advance.