August 8th has been designated as ‘Dying to Know Day’ around the world, so in Hernando and elsewhere around the globe, people will be considering and engaging in conversations about how to approach death and die in a manner consistent with their wishes. The initiative began in Australia by a group known as the Groundswell Project, and they were hoping to de-stigmatize the whole issue of death, so it could be dealt with logically and meaningfully. Senior home care professionals can help you begin planning for your eventual passing by discussing your wishes about death, and coordinating your plans so they can bear fruit.
Avoid the hallway huddle
If you were to ask almost any healthcare worker about the problems typically encountered by families who suffer the loss of a loved one, the most popular answer might be having surviving family members huddle up in the hallway to discuss their loved one’s wishes. When these are not clearly outlined in some official document, it remains a point of contention that could be debated endlessly among them all. The truth is, most people put a lot more thought into planning a family vacation than they do for end-of-life issues. All this can be avoided by making your wishes known in a document that all can refer to, so there are no misunderstandings and no arguments that result.
If you are leading a simple life that does not include significant assets, it will be an easy matter to prepare a legal will just by using one of the many online tools available. However, if you have somehow acquired a catalog of assets during your lifetime, it will probably be advisable to bring in a lawyer who can ensure that those assets are distributed to people according to your wishes. If you don’t prepare a legal will, all those assets will be distributed by the courts, regardless of what you may have intended. You may also need to designate how young children of yours should be cared for, and perhaps set up trusts for under-age family members. All this should be done while you are still in good health and of sound mind, because you never know what might happen tomorrow to change all that.
Pre-planning for your funeral can relieve much of the burden from your family members, and it can avoid a whole flurry of calls and arrangements that need to be made in a hurry. This can all be arranged with the funeral home long in advance, right down to who will do the readings, who will talk, what kind of flowers should be used, and what kind of clothes you’ll wear in repose. Your family will probably already be emotionally distraught, and having to go through all the details of coordinating a funeral will only add to their distress. It just makes good sense to handle all that ahead of time, so the funeral itself can proceed much more smoothly, and so the family can mourn without all that added stress.
Clear up any debts
You don’t want to leave behind a bunch of unpaid credit card balances, or other outstanding debts that family members will have to absorb. You may still be paying on an auto loan or a home equity line of credit, or any number of other debts. If you aren’t sure about all your debts, have a credit report run to identify them all. If possible, begin paying these off so you don’t leave behind a real financial burden on your loved ones. Even if you don’t have time to pay them all off, it will be very useful to have compiled this list, because it will be needed by your survivors.
Designate a Healthcare Proxy
It’s a major decision to figure out who should speak for you when you are unable to do so yourself. Your healthcare proxy will make significant decisions about funeral arrangements, life-sustaining options, surgeries, and other medical treatments. Think about the qualities you want your proxy to have before actually choosing one. Don’t make the mistake of just choosing a family member whom you happen to be close to – that person may not have the kind of composure or clear-headedness to make critical decisions on your behalf.
If there is no one you can think of to fill this role, you will still have some options available to you. Many people opt for someone outside the family, perhaps a trusted lifelong friend or acquaintance. If you have no one like that, you can still fill out a proxy form, which lists all your wishes explicitly, and which will be regarded as a de facto proxy. It’s not a good idea to choose your doctor, and in fact, some states do not allow this. Your healthcare proxy must be someone who is well-acquainted with your wishes and has the courage and confidence to stand up for them.