What to Do When the Doctor Tells You to Put Your Affairs in Order
One of the scariest things a medical professional can say to you or a loved one is “It’s time to put your affairs in order.” When an illness or disease reaches the stage where it becomes terminal, there is not much you can do except make the patient comfortable and begin the process of letting go.
While it is always important to tend to the mental and emotional side of saying goodbye, you should also use this time to make fiscal and legal arrangements. By tending to many of the end-of-life issues while you or a loved one is still able to make decisions, you can avoid many problems later on.
Health Care Decisions
If you have not already filled out forms related to long-term medical care, then this is the time to do it. This will ensure that medical professionals know exactly what to do regarding patient care, especially as it relates to making end-of-life decisions.
- Advance Directive: The advance directive, also known as a living will, is a legally binding document that tells the hospital or hospice what kind of life-saving measures (if any) you would like taken in your final days.
- Power of Attorney: If you are able to make decisions during your terminal care, you may do so as the issues arise. However, there may come a time when you are no longer in a position to state your preferences. A power of attorney assigns someone you love and trust to make those decisions for you.
- Medical Coverage: Although your medical provider may already have information on your insurance, Medicare coverage, and other healthcare payment plans, it is a good idea to ensure a loved one has copies of all this, as well.
If you assigned a power of attorney, this individual can also be selected as the executor of your estate. This is the person who ensures that your will is followed and your estate dispersed according to your wishes. They can also help guide you through the process of arranging your affairs before you pass.
- Will: A will is the most common type of legal arrangement, as it bequeaths your belongings to those you wish to have them.
- Life Insurance Policies: If you have a life insurance policy, it is a good idea to double check the beneficiary to ensure that the funds go to the most ideal person.
- Financial Records: Any records you have of your financial situation (including deeds, insurance paperwork, bank account information, safety deposit boxes, liabilities, debts, credit card information, and pensions/retirement) should be put in an easy-to-access and secure place.
Making Funeral Arrangements
Once the healthcare and financial side of things are taken care of, you should turn your attention to what happens after death occurs—especially as it relates to your funeral preferences. Although telling a family member your wishes is a great first step, it is best to put your preferences down in writing or, better yet, to begin the process of paying for funeral arrangements in advance.
Choose between cremation and burial, select a cemetery plot ahead of time, or plan and pay for a funeral from start to finish. Whatever you would like to do, make sure your wishes are clear. Not only will this give you peace of mind as you approach your final days, but it will also help family members who will be grieving your loss.