When we die, there is much that we leave behind, from our family and possessions to our property and bodies. Unless we’re prepared, making sense of it is all is left up to our loved ones—an at-times difficult endeavor, especially amidst grieving.
To make things easier, planning out your preferences after death is an important step, and there are a number of documents available to you to help you capture how you would like things to go.
Common end-of-life planning documents
Here are a few common documents to help you plan for when you pass.
An Advance Directive is created to make sure your medical treatment decisions are followed if you are no longer able to communicate. Advance health care directives can include the following pieces:
- Living Will: In the
eventyou are unable to communicate and require medical treatment, this document outlines which kinds of medical interventions are acceptable and which ones are not, according to your preferred quality of life.
- Health Care Proxy Form: This document designates someone as your health care proxy to make any medical treatment decisions you haven’t outlined specifically in your advance directive. Ideally, this person understands how you define a good quality of life.
- POLST: A Physician's Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is intended for people who are nearing the end of life. This document captures preferences on what kinds of life-sustaining treatments you find acceptable, such as feeding tubes or ventilators. This document must be signed by a doctor to be valid.
Ready to start filling out your state's forms? Check out our advance directive resource to locate and download your state's forms.
Estate Planning Documents
Estate planning documents are used to make sure your assets and any dependents you have are taken care of in the way you see fit after you pass. They can include the following:
- Will and/or Trust: You may create a last will and testament in order to make sure all of your property, money, investments, and other possessions are given to the people you choose. Sometimes this includes putting your assets into a trust that has specific rules on when and how the money or assets can be used.
- Guardianship Forms: If you have children that are dependents, filling out guardianship forms ensures they are taken care of by people you trust in case your death takes place before they are of legal age.
The gift of being prepared
Each of these documents will help clearly outline to your loved ones and doctors how you want to be treated at the end of your life. Thinking about death and dying, though difficult, will ensure your medical preferences are respected until the end and allow you to lift the burden of straightening your affairs from your loved ones after you go.