End of life planning isn’t easy to talk about. But death is one thing that happens to everyone.

And end of life planning isn’t just for seniors. Once a person becomes 18, it is important to have certain documents in place in case of an emergency. These documents and the open communication about end of life and emergency action plans is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones.

By being clear about your wishes, and having those wishes documented, you can reduce tensions that may already be high as emotions run high during this particularly stressful time of life. If you aren’t sure what I mean, or don’t think that could happen in your family, I want to remind you of the Terri Schiavo case which ended in 2005. She was only 41 years old. We have also heard of tragic stories of college aged students, moms and dads and others who have lost their life or became unable to make decisions for themselves. It is never too early to plan.

Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy

“Holly Deni’s 99-year-old aunt was hospitalized after she was found unconscious in her Manhattan apartment. Deni’s aunt, who had no children, had a will but had never given anyone power of attorney for her finances or health care. As a result, Deni couldn’t manage her aunt’s bills, retrieve personal items from her apartment or move her to a long-term-care facility near Deni’s home in New Jersey. It took Deni six months to become her aunt’s legal guardian, at a cost of $15,000.” SOURCE: Kiplinger: You will need legal authority to take charge of Mom or Dad’s affairs.

A durable power of attorney is there to allow your loved ones to take care of things when you are not able to. The Health Care Proxy allows them to make decisions about how and what health care treatments you want to receive. The Power of Attorney for Financial and Health Care matters can be the same or different people. Understand that health care costs money and there must be a balance in how those two work together. Speaking to a lawyer will help to clarify the ramifications of your choices as well as involve another person in the understanding of your wishes. With the Health Care Proxy should also be a Release of Information so doctors are able to talk to your Proxy without breaking any HIPAA laws.

Living Will

A living will simply states the treatments you want or don’t want, including Do Not Resuscitate Orders. It is not the same as a Health Care Proxy in that is doesn’t actively make decisions, but rather communicates in writing what your wishes are for people to see. It should include your decisions about permanent terminal disease, artificial respiration, feeding tubes, pain relief and more. It should include any religious or closely held beliefs that pertain to end of life issues.

A will

Your will is designed for fulfilling your wishes for the handling of your assets after your passing. It should include information about insurance you have including life, health, disability, etc that may pay out sums of money or other benefits. Any pre-planning documentation can be addressed here as well as bank account information, including loans, safe deposit boxes and credit cards. Investments or savings, tax forms and other important information should also be mentioned so all areas involving financial matters can be resolved as easily as possible. Your Will should also include an action plan for care of any minor children, grandchildren or other beneficiaries of your estate.

Heflebower Funeral and Cremation services believes in being an advocate for families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. One of the ways we come along side to support them is by offering education and services that truly honor the deceased. If you have questions about end of life planning or funeral pre-planning, please contact us.