There's more than simple healthcare planning to do

End-of-Life Planning Everyone Needs to Do

by Gary Foreman

How to Conquer Debt eBook

Whether you're a baby boomer or part of another generation, sooner or later your days on earth will come to an end. And, much as we'd like to ignore that, we do our families a disservice when we don't do some end-of-life planning.

End-of-life planning not only includes advanced healthcare planning, but also other legal issues that become relevant at life's end. To help us understand some of the issues involved with end-of-life planning, we contacted Rhonda Sherwood. Ms. Sherwood is a Certified Financial Planner in Vancouver. She provides financial planning, investment management, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance planning, and tax planning advice to her clients.

Q: Why is it important to have an end of life planning conversation with loved ones while you're still in good health?

Ms. Sherwood: To ensure we are living the best quality of life until our final days we need to plan for the life we want to live and ensure our loved ones are aware and are committed to honoring our wishes. We also need to be doing planning while we are competent to make decisions for ourselves. For example, an Advance Health Care Directive is a way to ensure that decisions regarding our later in life health care will be carried out.

Q: What topics should be covered in an end-of-life planning conversation?

Ms. Sherwood:

- Who you want to appoint to be your power of attorney/representative/executor
- Completing your Will and deciding what to do with your assets
- Discuss the type of later in life health care you want to receive
- Funeral arrangements

Related: Choosing Beneficiaries for Your Retirement Plans

Q: Is there a preferred way to save end of life information for our loved ones?

Ms. Sherwood: Document it legally first and then have a family meeting or personal discussions with key family members or friends to discuss your wishes. Ensure key people have documentation. Plus, keep documents in a secure place.

Q: Part of end-of-life planning is legally enabling someone to act for us. What documents are typically used for this purpose?

Ms. Sherwood: The documents include Power of Attorneys, Representation Agreement, and Advance Health Care Directives. When you pass, your Will comes into effect.

We recommend getting professional estate planning help, but if paying a professional is not in your budget, consider Nolo's estate planning products including wills and living trusts.

Q: Most people don't like to discuss end-of-life issues. How can you make the conversation easy for yourself and loved ones?

Ms. Sherwood: I think you just have to have the conversation. There is no easy way to do it except to do it. Have a family meeting or meet with key people individually. Just let them know that you want to make life easier on them as they won't have to make the hard choices themselves. You have done it already.

Q: Technology has added new elements to our lives. How has it affected end of life planning?

Ms. Sherwood: It makes it easier to find many groups to support and direct you in the end-of-life planning process.

Reviewed February 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Schedule an end of life discussion with your adult children.
  • If you don't have the proper documents in place, contact a professional for an appointment.
  • Get more smart estate planning tips and advice by visting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Make sure you have enough life insurance. Get your free term life insurance quote from PolicyGenius, a Dollar Stretcher trusted partner.
  • Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.

Rhonda Sherwood has over 26 years of experience working in various areas of the financial services industry. You can find out more about her work on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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