Many generally sensible, thoughtful, careful people cannot be sensible, thoughtful, or careful about planning for the end of their own lives. Some can’t do a simple will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan. Others can face the “money” part: they can create wills, trusts, and other vehicles to preserve wealth. (We will leave for another day whether some advisors and their clients focus to much on the money and not enough on the impact of the planning on the family members themselves.)
Tougher still, for many, is the topic of end-of-life planning. Many say “if” “something” happens to me. It’s not “if”, it is when. And that “something” is the end of life. It may come slowly and with lots of advance notice. It may come completely unexpectedly and quickly. Either way, it is imperative to plan for the end of your own life.
You can choose to forgo treatments that will prolong your life, but not cure you. You can choose to pursue every path as long as possible. And nuances in between. What you must do is make those choices in advance. Then you must set out your preferences in an advance directive (directing, in advance, what you want) and you must name the person (and back-up) you want to ensure that those choices are honored as fully as possible when you may be unable to speak for yourself.
If you do nothing, you lay the groundwork for a potentially catastrophic family quarrel: your family will need to decide, in a time of great stress, what to do. The burden of making this decision is immense. Moreover, the decision reached may not be the approach you wanted (but failed to spell out).
In a conversation with Mitzi Perdue, I happened to mention my experience as the health care proxy for my mother and the importance of having access to her advance directive. Hats off to Mitzi in recognizing that this issue was one to highlight. Please read our article, published on May 23, 2018, in the Family Firm Institute (FFI) Practitioner, “A Way to Prevent Catastrophic Family Quarrels“. Then please take action, if you haven’t already done so.