First: HOORAY! Good for you.
And: I hope you make that one the resolution that sticks.
Doing your end of life planning–from writing a will, to advanced directives, organ donation, and living will paperwork, and on through final disposition wishes and estate settling–can be daunting and off-putting. (Witness the vast majority of people in the US who just have not done it, and worse, the ones who die without the essential documents in place…) Certainly, in our world today, no one really likes to think about death and dying and all that go along with it, although, as one of my favorite planning gurus, Gail Rubin, likes to say,
Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead
But the good news is, unlike a diet or an exercise resolution, this process is one-and-done. Set aside a weekend, or a night a week, or a retreat to a hotel, put your head down, and just get it done, legal-like, down to the notaries and such as necessary. The good news at the end of your effort is that you’re done! You can and should always review and make changes as desired, but as long as what you wrote is still your desire, that’s one resolution you can permanently claim to have accomplished!
There are so many good resources out there to aid you in doing most of it yourself, a selection of which are listed below to get you started.
(NOTE: There are some parts, particularly legal stuff like wills and guardianship preparation, that you will want to make sure are iron-clad and well planned, so always err on the side of getting excellent expert help and advise if you have questions!)
End of Life and Advance Directives
- Advance Directive/Medical POA forms (Texas) this Austin FCA affiliate has collected all the necessary Texas forms. (Some will need notarization)
- Living Wills and other EOL Medical Forms (by State) NOLO.com has gathered an informative page with links to information for all US states, plus more.
- Get Your S*#t Together This website, birthed out of a woman’s experiences after the sudden death of her husband, contains a helpful master checklist that will guide you through what information you should have considered and stored to be truly ‘ready’ to deal with an unexpected death.
Considerations Around Wills
- Thoughts about Choosing an Executor This thoughtful posting approaches the discussion from the “should I accept being an executor?” side, but the considerations for choosing who you will assign for yourself are very similar.
- Your Digital Legacy Who will sort out the online world you leave behind? Definitely something to consider, with the help of the information here.
Funeral Planning and Guidance
- My Wonderful Life: a comprehensive experience that draws out and documents all your wishes around funeral and planning for after you’ve died. Allows for designation of an ‘angel’ to access your portfolio when needed
- Everplans: similar digital archive of important wishes and information around the individual’s end of life, funeral, and estate wishes.
- Consider creating an online scrapbook or memorial site to curate through your life and then leave behind; you can even leave videos and messages to loved ones to be delivered once you’re gone. Some sites include:
No matter which sites or services you choose to use, or even if you just do it in a document or a notebook, thinking through, documenting, and communicating your wishes is essential. There are aspects which will require official help (legal, notary, medical personnel) and you may find that to be a blocker, but please, push through and get it done. The time you invest now will save your loved ones much more time and grief later, and is one of the best gifts you can give.
If you’re more the personal-trainer kind, and want help with the discussions and documentation–I do that, especially around your end of life wishes. I’m well versed in your local Austin options, and can help you document choices that reflect your values and desires; I also have many trusted sources to refer you to, from lawyers to funeral directors and final resting places, and will help you navigate the discussions (with a touch of “just get it done” personal-trainer tough love thrown in…)
Questions? Need help knowing where to start? Want someone to talk to about it? Call me (512.763.7185) or drop me a note, and we’ll talk!