Hello and welcome!
Today’s blog is focused on ‘End of Life Planning 101’. We’ll be looking answering the questions, ‘What is an End of Life Plan?’ ‘Why do you need one?’ And, ‘How do you make one?’
So let’s begin at the very beginning, a very good place to start…
(It’s a film with amazing songs, don’t judge!)
What is an End of Life Plan?
An End of Life Plan is a document which allows you to capture and record all the details about you and your life.
This means that if you die, or something happens to you and you’re no longer able to speak for yourself, then the people around you will have the information they need.
It may be that they need to know what your funeral wishes are, or perhaps they need access to your computer so they can take care of your social media accounts. An End of Life Plan makes it much easier for them to do that.
An End of Life Plan generally covers three major components:
1. Legal Documentation
The first is recording what you do (or don’t) have in terms of legal documentation.
Examples would be… Do you have a will and where is it kept? Do you have your Lasting Powers of Attorney? Do you have an Advanced Decision? Where are all these documents kept?
The second component is around the practicalities of daily life. Things like writing down the names of your utility providers and the associated account numbers.
Or perhaps recording all your online log-ins and passwords. Which may be quite time consuming, but oh so worthwhile – you’ll be surprised at how many accounts you actually have.
This may also include your social media profiles and your accounts. What would you like to happen to those if you’re no longer here? Write it down.
The third component of an End of Life Plan concerns your wishes. This could be your ‘Last Days’ Wishes’.
For example, if you became ill. In your final weeks and days, how would you wish to be cared for? Where would you like to be? And who and what would you like, or not like, around you?
It may be that you want to write down your wishes for your funeral or your memorial service, and the kind of ceremony that you would like. Who you would like to speak? What music and/or readings would you like as part of the service?
Wishes can also include things like your Legacy wishes. How would you like to be remembered? What do you want people to know about you?
What were your accomplishments and the achievements that you’re most proud of and that you want other people to share and remember?
All of these things get written down in an End of Life Plan so that if (when) other people require this information, they know where it’s kept, and how to access it.
Why do you need an End of Life Plan?
I know what you’re thinking, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “Well Annette, I don’t need to do this and certainly not yet. I’m young. I’m fit, I’m well. You know, end of life is so far in the future and I don’t have time to be thinking about that today. “
And I would say to you “buuuuuuuuuutttt… maybe you should do it anyway…?”
I would suggest that there are two main reasons why you need to make your End of Life Plan.
Reason 1 – For Your Peace of Mind
The first reason is actually for you; for your own peace of mind.
In writing everything down and keeping it together in one place; the peace of mind you will receive from doing this work is immeasurable.
There is also a quirky little side benefit of helping you assess your life as it currently is. End of Life Planning enables you to carry out a life audit, if you will.
That’s because when you’re writing these things down, you have no choice but to kind of assess where you’re at this point in your life.
Imagine you had died yesterday.
Are you comfortable with what you’ve achieved so far in your life? Are you happy with the relationships that you have? Would you have wished that you had done a few things slightly differently?
And if so. then guess what? You didn’t die yesterday so you can do something about it. You can make those changes.
Creating your End of Life Plan can actually be incredibly life-affirming.
Reason 2 – To Benefit Those Around You
The second reason that you want to make your End of Life Plan now is for the people around you.
When somebody dies, those who are left behind are often asked to make incredibly tough decisions very, very quickly at a time when they’re least able to do so.
They’re grieving, they’re mourning. They are overcome with emotion, stopping reason in its tracks.
And yet we ask them to make very rational decisions, usually important, often with a financial component to them.
And we’re asking too much.
When you have an End of Life Plan outlining what you want (and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t want), you make your loved ones’ lives so much easier.
You lessen the burden for them in the decision-making process because you have provided a map for them to follow. You guide them through those decisions when they need it most.
And by doing so, you are giving them a gift. It may be a gift that perhaps today they tell you they don’t want.
But rest assured, at the point of need, those left behind will be incredibly grateful that you took the time and the energy to do this.
I really cannot overestimate how important this work is.
So we now know what an End of Life Plan is, and why you need one, but how do you make an End of Life Plan?
Making Your End of Life Plan
There are five main options available to you if you want to create your End of Life Plan.
Option 1 – DIY
It can be as simple as gathering together all your documentation; your legal papers, all your various accounts and passwords, contact information, etc and keeping it all in one place.
Remember to write down and include all your wishes for things like your funeral or memorial service, as well as your legacy wishes.
Keep everything together in one place where somebody can find it. I highly recommend if you’re going to do this, to obtain some kind of container like a folder or a metal cabinet that is fireproof, if at all possible.
Option 2 – Use a Workbook or Planner
Option two is similar but it gives you a little bit of help along the way.
There are workbooks and planners that you can purchase which essentially walk you through the kinds of things that you need to write down. This helps avoid the possibility of forgetting something. Here are a few options to investigate. Be aware that each has its pros and cons so do your research before spending your money to make sure it’s a good fit for you.
- Dockleaf Conversations ‘The Peace of Mind Planner‘. Yes, this is a shameful plug because it’s mine. But there are others…
- The ‘Before I Go Workbook‘
- If you want a very plain and simple hardcopy workbook, check out this one.
Option 3 – The online digital option
If you’re somebody who very much embraces the online world and prefers to do everything in ‘the cloud’, then you may want to use one of the online services available.
These essentially are your End of Life Planning ‘container’ and organisations that provide this service include:
If it’s just more your jam to get all your documentation together, upload it and keep it in one place online, then this might be more your thing. As always, research the possibilities and pick the one that is best for you.
Option 4 – Enrol on a group-study course
Creating your End of Life Plan in many ways is very simple, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
This work can bring up quite a lot of things in terms of your relationships and your wishes that maybe you’ve not given thought to before, or perhaps you find this really uncomfortable to do so.
And it can be somewhat daunting and even a little overwhelming on occasion.
If that resonates and you would rather have somebody walk you through the process and be there for you every step of the way, then it might be that you want to be part of a group of people doing exactly the same thing.
This makes the whole thing far less scary and you can all support each other along the way which might be something that works really well for you. One organisation that offers this kind of group course is Before I Go Solutions and you can find the course details here.
(Full disclosure – I trained with Before I Go Solutions to be an End of Life Planning Coach, but I do not receive any kind of compensation for recommending them, financial or otherwise B.IG. is a social enterprise and one I am happy to support because they have a mission I wholeheartedly support.)
Option 5 – Work 1:1 with an End of Life Planning Coach
Last but not least, you may want even more support to complete your End of Life Plan, or perhaps groups just aren’t your thing.
In which case you can choose to work one-to-one with somebody like me, an End of Life Planning Coach. (They might go by a different title but offer the same kind of service.)
That’s where we work together to complete your End of Life Plan but rather than following a set order, we just bounce around in whatever order works for you.
We take it at your pace, and we end up in exactly the same place. You’ll still have your End of Life Plan, but we’ll do it in a way that’s really, really comfortable for you ?
So those are five different options available to you to make your own End of Life Plan.
Think of End of Life Planning as just another kind of insurance. We have many insurances we hope we’ll never need; our car insurance, home insurance, even life insurance.
Well, making your End of Life Plan is just another one of those.
Except that in this particular case, you have the certainty of knowing that somebody someday, is going to need to claim on it.
At the end of the day, if you’ve created your End of Life Plan, you will make your loved ones’ lives so much easier, at a time they need it most. And what could be better than that?
Until next time, take care.