There is one certainty in life, and that is that there are no certainties. 

Life is unpredictable. No one ever expects to be injured or sick. But emergencies happen every day. Being prepared ensures that your wishes are followed.  

One area that people don’t often want to think about is their death. As unsettling as it may seem, death is an inevitable part of life. If you are incapacitated, getting your affairs in order protects you and the people you love from uncertainty, worry, and stress. 

Yet, approximately half of adults 60 and older have completed an advance directive (Pew 2006, AARP 2008). This number goes up to 88 percent for those under hospice care. But the goal is not to wait until you are on hospice care and to take the time to formally state your wishes now while you are of sound mind and body. 

Many people choose to do end-of-life planning to minimize the burden of death on a loved one. The five main components of end-of-life planning include:

  1. Advance Directive (living will).
  2. Appointing a durable power of attorney (POA).
  3. Last Will and Testament.
  4. Living Trust.
  5. POLST

In this blog, we will outline each and discuss five ways to plan for the end of life.

  1. Advance Directive – an advance directive or living will tell doctors and other healthcare practitioners how you want to be medically treated if you cannot decide about emergency treatment. In this document, you outline what curative treatments you want to receive and which you want to avoid. For example, some people choose to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders in their advance directive.
  2. Durable Power of Attorney: A power of attorney (POA) authorizes someone to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. A durable remains intact if you become incapacitated. For example, the person appointed can manage bank accounts, file tax returns, apply for government benefits, and buy and sell property. There are general durable powers of attorney and specific ones (i.e., health care).
  3. Last Will and Testament: Also known as a will, your last will and testament outline how you want your estate (your property, money, and other assets) distributed when you die. Supremely important, this document can also outline how you want your children cared for in the event of your death. In addition, you will outline care for pets and your end-of-life arrangements (cremation vs. burial). Having a will is essential because if you do not have one, your state dictates how your estate will be distributed.
  4. Living Trust: A living trust is a document that designates a person responsible for managing your property and funds when you can no longer manage them on your own. A trust lets you control your assets’ distribution without the court’s interference. Planning is a wise investment in protecting your wishes and legacy. Protect your family by eliminating the need for them to wonder what you’d want. Make your wishes crystal clear by creating your end-of-life plan today.
  5. POLST: POLST stands for Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, which is a medical form that turns end-of-life wishes into medical orders. A POLST is only recommended for people who are seriously or terminally ill. This is helpful in the event that you lose the ability to speak on your behalf and ensures that you receive only the medical wishes you desire and not those you don’t. The POLST does not replace an Advance Directive.

We are hosting a Community Life presentation on August 14th from 10 am – 11:30 am in our community room. During the event, you will learn how to complete all of your end-of-life planning documents for as little as $30. You will also hear from an estate planning expert and a banker. There is limited seating, so please sign up for our seminar today by calling (541) 548-7483.