The end of life can be chaotic and painful, even if you have money and family support. Though doctors may assume terminally-ill people want to live as long as possible, a 2017 study showed people care more about avoiding strain on their families, having medical preferences honored, and passing peacefully surrounded by loved ones. In addition to hiring a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to take care of things after you’re gone, you should also have a plan to make the last few years of life fulfilling.
First, have a plan in place for when you’re no longer able to handle things on your own. Consider whether you would want to be placed on life support, or whether you would rather live in comfort for as long as possible. Talk with your loved ones about your wishes. You should put those wishes in a writing and have an Advance Directive. Make sure your estate planning attorney knows about this. When appointing an “agent,” remember a close family member might not always be the best choice – they may be too emotionally overwhelmed to follow instructions.
Second, if you are faced with a serious or terminal diagnosis, be sure you know how your body and mind will function over time. Be prepared to recognize when your condition reaches end stage so you can decide if you want to switch from hospital visits to comfort care.
Finally, remember you are still alive! The end of your life should be a time of reflection and good experiences, like skydiving and bungee-cord jumping, not just a series of medical procedures. People who contemplate aging and mortality tend to live better lives, and often die with less suffering. Planning for passing, instead of fighting it, gives you ability to control time you have left, and to make great memories for family and friends.
Don’t forget – a knowledgeable estate planning attorney will be your best resource if you have questions. Your attorney can help you and your loved ones feel secure in knowing your affairs are in order.