Most of us are aware of the importance of end-of-life care. We don’t want to leave our loved ones powerless to make decisions about our care or unaware of our wishes. 87% of adults think that making sure their families aren’t burdened by their end-of-life care is extremely or very important. 85% said the same about making sure their medical wishes are followed.
Yet many of us haven’t completed what we need to do to ensure that these things happen. Death is a universal human experience, but most of us avoid thinking about it until it’s right in front of us. We put off making our end-of-life plans because we don’t know where to start — but an end-of-life planning checklist can help you organize your thoughts and keep you on track.
How do I make an end-of-life plan?
End-of-life planning is an opportunity to shape your last chapter and continue to take care of your family when you pass. By taking the time to make tough decisions now, you prevent your loved ones from having to make them down the line. An end-of-life to-do list is a useful way to get started.
With proper planning, you can design an end-of-life experience that reflects your values and puts your family on a path to healing. There’s a lot to be gained from thinking ahead, so download our end-of-life planning checklist now, and let's review it in more detail.
End-of-life financial planning checklist
Financial planning before the end of your life is important in order to ensure not only that your assets are distributed the way you wish, but also that your loved ones can afford to carry out your final wishes. You’ll want to:
- Ensure you have money set aside for your desired living arrangements (for example, assisted living or nursing home) as well as for your funeral arrangements
- Settle outstanding debts
- Make a will — and consider if a trust is advisable for your situation
- Designate a durable power of attorney for your financial matters
- Name or double-check beneficiaries on all of your accounts
- Document any loans you’ve made that still need to be repaid after you’re gone
End-of-life medical checklist
More than half of all people over 65 who are admitted to a hospital are unable to make decisions for themselves. When preparing for end-of-life, a checklist can help ensure that your loved ones understand your health care preferences and have the legal rights to help you make crucial decisions.
To communicate your medical and healthcare preferences, you’ll want to create a healthcare power of attorney. This is a written document that explains your wishes for various scenarios and designates a healthcare agent or proxy to make decisions when you are no longer able to.
There are two major components of a healthcare power of attorney. Depending on your state, the healthcare power of attorney may address only one of these areas or both. First, you need to appoint an agent to represent your interests. That person is empowered to make decisions on your behalf if you're unable to. You can constrain their decision-making or give them very general authority. Either way, you should take time to sit down with your chosen agent and discuss your end-of-life wishes in detail.
Second, you’ll set out your preferences for life-sustaining measures under certain conditions. This may mean answering questions like:
- Do you wish to refuse certain extraordinary measures to prolong your life, such as resuscitation, feeding tubes, or other forms of life support?
- Do you wish to spend your final moments in the hospital or at home?
You can look up the rules for your state on the AARP website, here.
Funeral arrangement checklist
Your funeral is likely the last time that all of your loved ones will come together for a celebration in your honor. An end-of-life planning checklist can help you think through how you’d like to be remembered:
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- What do you want out of your final resting place? Is it important that it's in nature? Close to family?
- Do you want a big party or a small, intimate celebration?
- Who should be invited?
- Is there a certain soundtrack that you would want to be played? Food to be served?
- Where do you want your funeral to be held?
- Will you leave behind money to help pay for your funeral? Pre-paying for your funeral through funeral insurance options will help ease the mental burden on your family when you pass.
In addition to your funeral arrangements, you can also write your own obituary to ensure it includes everything you want to be remembered for. You might also want to leave a message for your loved ones in the form of a video, audio recording, or letter.
End-of-life document checklist
A last will and testament (also called a will) is the most well-known end-of-life legal document. It’s where you name the executor of your estate, designate beneficiaries for your assets and possessions, and assign guardianship for any dependents. It then goes into effect after your death. However, you’ll also want to create or gather several other documents as part of your end-of-life document checklist. Make sure you have documentation of:
- Your bank accounts and safety deposit box locations
- The deed to your house and title to your car
- Bills you currently pay, due dates, and amounts
- Life insurance and other important policies and beneficiaries
- Your important passwords
Planning for what happens both before and after you pass can seem overwhelming, but with an end-of-life planning worksheet, it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help — download our checklist today and give yourself peace of mind when you need it most.