It’s a good idea to prepare for your death while you are still healthy, especially after age 60. It’s inevitable you will die one day. How do you want to spend the last few months, weeks, or days of your life? Preparing also addresses what your wishes are.
Put your affairs in order while you are still healthy. A Will can be as simple as your wishes written on a piece of paper, dated, and signed by two non-related witnesses to your signature. If you have any questions though, it’s a good idea to see a Notary Public or Lawyer. If you don’t have a Will, the courts at a great expense to your estate may decide division of your property.
This will let your doctor and family know that you don’t want to be kept alive by artificial means after brain function has ceased or the heart has quit beating. It can be a free downloadable form from the Internet but needs to be witnessed by two non-related people. Give a copy to your doctor and copies to your children, preferably while you are still healthy and can discuss the issue without any pressure.
Power of Attorney allows you to appoint who you want to look after your affairs should you be unable to do so. If there is nothing in place, and you are deemed unfit to look after your affairs by a team of doctors, the government gets to take over and spend your money!
If you end up dealing with a terminal illness, where do you want to die? In the old days it was common to die at home. In the last few decades, people were automatically shipped off to the hospital and eventually died there. Many people are choosing to die at home now as long as there are hospice services in place that would support the person at home. If you prefer this option, find out what’s available, and then talk with your family or your close friends if you don’t have family.
I remember when my father passed away a few years ago. He chose to die at home. The night before he passed, his grandchildren had a crib board set up on his chest and were enjoying some great challenges. My father was semi-commatose but we knew he was enjoying the experience, participating in a game he had enjoyed all his life.
This is a personal choice, often dictated by your religion and beliefs. If you decide on cremation, you may want to just go out in a cardboard box without being dressed. It keeps the costs down quite a bit. If you plan on having your ashes spread in your favorite place, let your family know, but don’t tell the officials! The container for your ashes can be as simple as a box or a 5 gallon jar, as long as it has some way of being sealed.
Burial can be a very expensive proposition so prepare ahead of time and have everything arranged and paid for. You can do this for cremation too. It might be a good idea to make arrangements with a cross-country franchise, should you be one to move quite a bit and end up dying in another part of the country.
- Write a Will
- Write a Living Will.
- Put an Enduring Power of Attorney in place.
- Decide where you prefer to die.
- Celebrate your life as you die.
- Cremation or burial?
- Leave the Celebration of Life up to the survivors.
“I don’t want a memorial when I die.” Get it straight, you aren’t going to be around, except maybe in spirit. People need to grieve about your passing and a Celebration of Life or a Wake or a Funeral is often the first step in the healing process. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on those left behind.
Whatever your wishes are, it’s a good idea to print this information and then sit down with family or friends to discuss it. If you have an elderly relative that hasn’t made arrangements, pass this information on to him or her.