Begin With The End In Mind: End Of Life Planning

 I borrowed part of my title today from Stephen R Covey's best selling book, " The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People".  On his list of habits, habit #2 says, "Begin with the End in Mind". By this he possibly means to discover yourself & set life goals whilst envisioning the ideal characteristics of various roles you play and  your relationships in life. 

He may only partly be referring to the end of life itself but in the context of planning for end of life, we have to consider this statistic, that more than half of all Americans dying do not have a will or estate planning at all. As we look closer there are even more who haven't made any efforts to ease the burden left to their survivors. The burden in connection with burial, memorial, personal accounts and many other significant decisions which may cause divisions in family. Is that the legacy one would like to leave behind? 

One of MiSEA's recent CPE classes, was, "Let's Die And See What Happens". There were a few things that were discussed that are very relevant here: 

How Are My Remains To Be Disposed?: As gruesome as it may sound, this is the first
decision to be made when starting the conversation about end of life planning. 

  • Organ Donations: This is the MOST important instruction to be left behind if you desire any or all of your organs be donated for transplantation or research. There are other parts of the body other than the vital organs that can be donated as well. These decisions if left to the survivors may cause confusion or heartache. Therefore one must leave clear instructions regarding organ donation/s. 
  • Funeral Arrangements: Burial or end of life rituals are largely dictated by one's religious affiliations. However, if one wants to bypass these & add their own instructions, then some religious groups want to see it in writing. Many secular mortuaries now expressly require written instructions for cremation of remains or even Advanced Health Care Directives. Many facilities accept pre-arrangements & pre-paid burial plans. One should also add directives as to location & funeral programs if one wants to take the heartache of planning out of the hands of survivors & leave a happy memory for them.   

How Are My Memorial Services To Be Conducted?:  As you may attend others' memorial services, you may envision one that is going to be conducted for you. If there is a certain way you want it to be, again, put it down in writing! Some of you may desire large parties and food served and some of you may not want anything at all.  These plans are dictated
by economics as well as personal desires. Without personal instructions, we may leave a confused family possibly bickering over these decisions. The choices of memorial services are limited only by your imaginations & your finances. 

Obituaries & Notices:  Some burial services or cemeteries publish one-line obituaries as part of the program. However, if you desire a public notice of your demise and take pride in the "finished" work of the obituary, you may want to leave behind an outline of what you want said; about yourself, family members you want to include, your accomplishments you want highlighted, and even the length you want your obituary to be. You have to keep in mind though that the newspapers also publish these obituaries on their online editions, and they remain available to anyone searching for them for years & years.

Instructions: It's very important after deciding on the above, to hand over the the instructions regarding organ donations, funeral arrangements, advanced health directives, obituaries, notices & memorial services to an attorney or family member/s whom one has designated to take care of matters after one's demise. Preferably these should be placed in an envelope which reads, " To be opened immediately upon death" and MUST be signed & dated thus authenticating them.  

As always, read my disclaimer here. Please consult a qualified tax professional for your unique tax needs. 
More of my contact information is on my website,



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