7 Frequently Asked Questions: End-of-Life Planning

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The end of life isn’t something most people want to think about often. But End-of-Life Planning is an industry that plays an important part of maintaining good health, both physically and financially, for yourself and your family.

Because we tend to think about it so infrequently, it’s common to have some questions about the process of end-of-life planning and what it entails. Below, we’ll answer some of those questions to help you get started with this crucial task.

Tip For more direction throughout the process of end-of-life planning, visit Cake’s end-of-life planning checklist.

1 What is End-of-Life Planning?

First and foremost, what is “end-of-life planning” anyway? End-of-life planning includes putting together documents that your family and estate will need if you pass away. That means life insurance policies and your will and testament, as two examples.

These help your family understand what you want done with your belongings and assets, as well as what you want done with your body after death. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Funeral or no funeral?

It also includes key pieces of documentation that your family will need if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for your own benefit. If you’re unable to answer questions yourself, who do you trust to speak on your behalf? What kind of life-saving interventions do you want, and which do you want to avoid?

2 What are the most important end-of-life documents?

The most important documents to consider when you’re ready to start the process of end-of-life planning include:

  • Advance Directive or Living Will. This healthcare document lets you choose which life-saving interventions you do or do not want taken if you are incapacitated in the hospital. In some states, this document is known as a living will, while in others, it’s called an advance directive.
  • Healthcare Proxy. A healthcare proxy document allows you to designate a person as your “proxy” in medical situations. This is the person who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to.
  • Will and Testament. A final will and testament is probably the best-known end-of-life document. Your will lays out what you want to happen with your belongings after your death, as well as how you’d like your body handled.
  • Power of Attorney. Just as a healthcare proxy designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, a power of attorney lets you choose someone to make financial decisions for you if you’re unable to. This could include deciding if and how to pay for certain medical treatments, as well as paying for hospice, palliative care, or senior care.

3 Who should be thinking about end-of-life planning?

It’s common to think you should wait to create end-of-life plans until you’re elderly or terminally ill. But it’s never too soon to prepare the essential documents listed above.

You should especially consider end-of-life planning if you’re planning or have recently experienced one of these major life events:

  • A change in financial status (like a promotion or a new job)
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Buying a home
  • Having a child
  • Making another large purchase

4 Why is end-of-life planning so important?

Why is it so important to create end-of-life plans? For one, it gives you the peace of mind that your health and your assets will be in good hands. You can rest assured that, if you become incapacitated, your medical care will be directed by someone you trust.

Second, creating end-of-life plans creates peace of mind for your family and loved ones. If you’re incapacitated or if you pass away, your family will know your wishes and have a blueprint to follow. This can take an enormous weight off of a family’s shoulders when someone goes into the hospital for care or passes away.

5 How do you create end-of-life plans?

If you’re like many people, you may believe that you have to work with an attorney to prepare legal end-of-life plans. But that isn’t the case.

You can prepare end-of-life plans like your advance directive and your healthcare proxy by working with your healthcare team, or with the hospital where you would go first for treatment.

As for documents like your will and testament, you can prepare these documents on your own. Then all you have to do is make sure your will is legal in your state. In most states, this means signing the document in front of witnesses who are not beneficiaries of your will.

6 How do you talk about end-of-life planning with family?

End-of-Life Planning
Photo by Ritam Baishya on Unsplash

Bringing up the topic of the end-of-life with your family members isn’t always comfortable. You might not know how to broach the topic or what to say.

A great idea when you want to talk about end-of-life plans, whether they’re your own or your family members’, is to have a plan in place. You can review this list of questions that are worth asking when you’re discussing end-of-life plans as a guide to your discussion.

Having a list of questions to ask also helps ensure that you’re covering every topic you need to, meaning that you can bring up the subject of end-of-life planning less often.

7 How can you create a legally binding will?

As mentioned, making a will legally binding usually means signing the will in front of two or more “disinterested parties.” This term refers to people who would not benefit from your will in any way if you pass away.

Once your will is legally binding, you can place it in a safe place in your home or keep it on file with your attorney. It’s also a good idea to make a copy for a loved one to hold on to.

Preparing for the Future

The end of life may not be something that’s always pleasant to think about, but it’s something we all have to face sooner or later. Whether you’re helping your parents plan for their later years or thinking ahead to your own future, end-of-life planning is a critical step toward protecting your family’s physical and financial health.

About the Author

End-of-Life Planning Sarah Kessler on JADCOM Media
Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler is a writer at, an end-of-life planning website with free resources and information on how to estate plan and honor loved ones’ final wishes.







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