I know…this is a very difficult topic to write about and talk about. Something none of us ever hope will happen but that we all know is going to happen. Being prepared in advance doesn’t make it easier, but it can make it a lot less stressful when you don’t have to deal with a bunch of issues you don’t really want to deal with at this time.
From talking with many clients that have gone through this, it is a time you want to be with family and friends…not worrying about (or dealing with) administrative and legal issues. There is a solution…address these before this time comes and you’ll save yourself a great deal of stress and frustration at time when you certainly don’t need this added burden.
There was a great article by WealthManagement.com that provided a detailed summary of the “Ten questions to Consider When Preparing for the Passing of a Loved One.” I wanted to take the highlights from it and share them with you since I agree completely with this list and feel it is critically important for everyone to know about these in advance and handle them before the time comes.
Here’s the highlight from the article…
- Know Your Options…Understand the difference between “Hospice” and “Palliative” care. Both of these provide end of life care but they are very different in how they are handled and administered.
- Dot your “I’s” and cross your “t’s”…make sure all the necessary legal documents are in place. There are several documents you should have in place and taken care of well before your loved one passes away. The key (and most critical) ones are…
- An Estate Strategy…knowing that the wishes and desires of your loved one are being taken care of is one of the biggest stress relievers available.
- Health Care Directive/Proxy…who is going to be the decision maker for your loved one when they get to a state where they can’t make decisions on their own? Having this thought out well before and ahead of time is an incredible stress reducer.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act…this is a way to protect the privacy of the patient’s medical records and other information. Again, very important to have in place well before they can’t make decisions on their own.
- Broach the Subject…make sure you fully understand the wishes and desires of your loved ones. This is a key reason we developed the Estate Strategy process rather than just providing documents as part of an estate plan. Knowing the wishes are going to be carried out in exactly the way your loved one wants them to is a huge stress reliever for everyone.
- Nail down the timeline…fully understand when your loved one wants to have end-of-life care begin. This is an incredibly emotional time for everyone so knowing when this is going to happen and under what conditions can help reduce a tremendous amount of stress for everyone.
- Research reputation…do your homework on care facilities…they aren’t all the same and there is a broad spectrum of options. The benefits are varied and can be very different. Do your homework well ahead of time so you don’t have to make a quick decision you may regret after the move has happened.
- Find out who’s behind the mask…know the loved one’s care providers well so you know exactly what to expect and how to interact with them. This is extremely critical for all the family members. While you might appoint a few people in the family to be the “point people” for conversations with the medical team, you should make sure you know the medical team well enough to have very personal and candid conversations with them.
- Do your Due Diligence…the family should check everything out ahead of time for facilities, doctors, and other critically important information. Spending time to do your homework on these areas will pay big dividends throughout the process. And allowing different family members to assume different responsibilities also spreads out the work load and reduces the stress for more people.
- Learn the “ins and outs”…is it better to have “in-patient” or “out-patient” care for the loved one?
- Prepare “Plan B”…what is the families backup plan? When the primary plan you have doesn’t work, now what? Knowing what your next plan would be, should you have to move quickly, is very important and saves a lot of time and stress for everyone.
- Ask for help…could someone benefit from counseling? This is an incredibly stressful time in everyone’s life…some of the family members (and the loved one passing away) might benefit greatly from having some counseling sessions with a qualified counselor.
There you have it…10 things that will lower the stress of both the family members and the loved one who is getting ready to pass away. When these things are in place, everyone’s stress goes down. And you can spend more time with your loved one and less time on administrative and other activities that occupy the time that could be allocated to your loved one. I hope this helps. And if you ever have a QUESTION, JUST ASK and I’ll be hap