End-of-Life Planning

Physician Wealth Advisors |

While it is often overlooked, one of the important aspects of personal planning is End-of-life planning. Even though it may not feel like it, death is a normal part of life and while planning for it is extremely important, it doesn’t make it easy. From a practical standpoint, the idea of preparing for the end simply means you’re lessening what could one day be a heavy burden on your loved ones.  

End-of-life planning is the part of your Estate Plan that formalizes and makes your wishes known as to what you want to have happen when you’re reaching the last phase of life. In this way you are helping to avoid placing an unintentional burden on your loved ones.  

End-of-life planning includes things like organization and the distribution of possessions, your end-of-life care preferences, as well as which medical interventions and measures should be taken. And though it may feel uncomfortable to prepare, just like other parts of your planning, you will likely feel a sense of relief once you put your End-of-life plan into place.  

Finally, while having a personal conversation about your End-of-life plan with your loved ones can be difficult, it is an important part of the process (becoming even more essential if you’re facing a recent diagnosis). Constructing your End-of-life plan as well as thinking through and developing your discussion points ahead of time are very helpful to prepare for this conversation.   

As such, here are some ideas to consider when constructing your End-of-life plan: 

Your data and documents  

  • Create a password list. Include phone, computer, email, social media accounts, etc. You may even consider using password software, which allows you to pass on passwords to your heirs.  

  • Review your social media accounts and decide what you’d like to have happen with them after your death. Every social media platform has different options.  

  • Document your investment and bank account information, including safe-deposit box locations and personal contacts at the institutions.  

  • Document any life insurance policies and beneficiaries, including information on funeral insurance or pre-paid burial plot, if applicable.  

  • Include your will and/or Trust. Consider updating, if things in your life have changed since your last update.  

  • Make a list of bills, including due dates and amounts. Be sure to note how statements are received and payments are made.  Also, identify which bills are ongoing and which have an end date.  

Your care  

  • Create an advance directive, a document that articulates your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of your life and designates an individual as your healthcare agent; this way ensuring your wishes are honored, should you no longer be able to speak for yourself. Be sure to make your advance directive specific.  

  • Make copies of your advance directive and provide them to your healthcare agent or trusted family/friends.  

  • Talk to your physician about your advance directive.  

  • Have multiple and ongoing conversations with your healthcare agent about your wishes.   

Your possessions 

  • Designate meaningful items to be given away to specific people. Consider doing so now.  

  • Dispose of any items that you wouldn’t want your heirs to find or include instructions about disposing of sensitive items for your trusted friend or family member.  

  • Identify the location of any cash stored for emergencies and provide instructions on how to use it.  

  • Draft a “Where to Find…” document identifying the location of important things your heirs might need after your death: the deed to your house, the title and keys to your car, your social security and insurance cards, etc.  

Your legacy  

  • Write your own obituary. Doing so will give you control over how you are remembered publicly.  

  • Write down instructions for your final disposition. What do you want to happen to your body when you die?  

  • Plan your funeral/remembrance ceremony. Who are your chosen speakers? What music would you like to include? Write down and share your vision.  

  • Create a message for loved ones. Write a letter, make a video, or whatever you think will be most meaningful for the people who matter most.  

Secure your End-of-life File  

  • Consider purchasing a fireproof home safe and a USB thumb drive to store your End-of-life File. 

  • Make copies of the End-of-life File’s contents and leave them with a trusted friend or family member.  

  • Include contact information for trusted advisors including your financial planner, attorney, and CPA.  

Ultimately, be sure to put your plan in writing and talk through it with your loved ones. Remember, death is one of the most normal parts of life. The more you attempt to normalize it, the easier it will be for your loved ones to come to terms with what you’re facing. While that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy, it can help them move through the grief process in their own way. Also, don’t forget to check in with your loved ones often, as expressing your end-of-life plan isn’t typically a one-time thing. Checking in along the way allows you to communicate any potential changes as well as your understanding of how difficult this process must be for them.  

If you would like to discuss your End-of-life planning or have any questions, please contact our UMAFS team at questions@umafs.org or at 801-747-0800.