Many people think an end-of-life plan is only for aging or terminally ill adults, but this is not the case. Below, we’ve listed 5 reasons to create your end-of-life plan that are relevant to anyone over the age of 18.

End-of-Life-Plan: What Is Its Purpose?

Your end-of-life plan’s purpose is to care for you, your loved ones, and your assets if you become incapacitated or pass away.

5 Key Reasons to Create an End-of-Life Plan:

1. You don’t know when your life will change or end: You may not be elderly or terminally ill, but tragedies happen to young, healthy people all the time. None of us think it will happen to us or the people close to us, until it does. This is reason enough to plan for the possibility that you could either become incapacitated or die unexpectedly. It is always better to plan for an unlikely tragedy than to be unprepared should the worst happen.

2. You have planning abilities now that you may not have in the future: Take advantage of your ability to think and communicate clearly. Depending on what health challenges you face in the future, you may face a time in life when you do not have the ability to make your own decisions. If you make some of those decisions now, you can create legal documents to ensure your wishes are carried out even if you become incapacitated.

3. You will most likely need your end-of-life plan before your life ends: We advocate for holistic end-of-life planning that can and should be implemented long before your actual death. This means:

      • planning to address all aspects of the latter part of your life, whether it be financial, physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.
      • being prepared for both the challenges of aging and the event of your passing.
      • doing everything you can to care for those who will be affected by your death and aging, primarily yourself and your closest loved ones.
      • empowering your agents to know how to advocate for you.

A properly set up plan will provide for you and your loved ones through each stage of your aging process and will eventually handle the details of your death. Your plan can and should include all the necessary details so that it can begin to act on your behalf the moment you begin experiencing limitations from aging. 

4. There is more to setting up an end-of-life plan than you may think. There are a lot of details that come up as you age. If you plan for some of them now, you will be much more able to face challenges as they come rather than be caught in crisis situations.

5. Your loved ones need you to have an end-of-life plan in place. Your loved ones will need the guidance of your Relational Elder Care Plan. They will not automatically know what to do if you are in a health crisis. You need to create a plan now and communicate with them so that when the time comes, they can make the decisions you would want. This aids you both by giving them direction and ensuring you will be properly cared for.

Create Your Own End-of-Life Plan

Your end-of-life plan should include two major parts, which can then be broken down into smaller details:

Part One: A Relational Elder Care Plan

The first is a Relational Elder Care Plan, which prepares you and those you love for your gradual or sudden health changes. This portion includes addressing things like:

      • Creating a financial power of attorney
      • Creating an advance medical directive
      • Choosing agents to play various roles in your life
      • Purchasing long-term care insurance
      • Communicating with loved ones about where you will live when you can no longer live alone
      • Saving money for the expenses that come with aging
      • Forming a community of professionals (attorney, financial planner, accountant, etc.) to ensure you avoid abuse

(Related: How to Choose Your Agents and the Personal Representative for Your Estate) 

Part Two: A Relational Estate Plan

The second branch is a Relational Estate Plan, which can help you protect and provide for your loved ones after your death, avoid family conflict, leave a legacy, preserve special memories, and ease burdens for those closest to you. It entails:

      • Using tools like wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations to distribute assets after your death
      • Making a legally binding plan for any minor children you may leave behind
      • Creating an estate guide and inventory to aid loved ones with practical details of estate administration
      • Creating an ethical will to pass on your values and beliefs
      • Setting aside money and instructions for your funeral and burial
      • Choosing an executor or personal representative to administer your estate
      • Communicating to loved ones the important things they need to know before you say goodbye

Each part of these two branches of end-of-life planning requires time, forethought, and energy. Every individual and family is different, and what works best for one person might not be a good option for someone else. Though it takes time upfront, in the long run, it will make both your life and the lives of those you love much easier.

We suggest you seek guidance from an attorney who has relational elder care and estate planning experience and can help you through each step of the process. Once you’ve created your end-of-life plan, you can face the future with confidence knowing you and your loved ones will be cared for.

If you are ready to create your end-of-life plan, schedule an appointment today, and let us help you get started.

Joshua E. Hummer, Esq. has been a practicing attorney for over 15 years. While experienced in many parts of the law, Josh specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law. He is licensed in both Virginia and West Virginia. Josh’s passion lies in helping people gain peace of mind about the future through holistic legal planning. When he isn’t meeting with clients or crafting legal documents, Josh enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, Jill, and their four vibrant children.