Many of us go through life believing everything will go according to plan. However, as the saying goes, even the best-laid plans go astray. So, to avoid unnecessary interruptions later in life that can be both financially and emotionally costly, it is wise to plan now for the possibility of incapacity.
Choosing end-of-life arrangements can be one of those tough decisions as a senior. However, these are very important decisions to make. With so many options available, how can anyone decide what the most cost-effective and responsible way to proceed would be? According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the trend of having an expensive burial is on the decline.
A few years ago, I created the Heartfelt Advance Care Plan booklet to provide my clients with a tool to improve their end-of-life care, to honor their choices and to reduce conflict and guilt among surviving family members. Those who do fill it out usually comment about how difficult yet rewarding it was to complete. Asking and answering detailed questions about end-of-life wishes, regardless of how difficult it may be, is tremendously helpful to both the dying and their survivors.
As parents age, many adult children step into the role of caregiver. However, for those who live far from their parents, caregiving presents different challenges. Planning, communication and a team approach can significantly improve the process.
Making an estate plan that clearly documents intention helps surviving family members avoid fighting; especially in court. Yet lawyers will write the estate plan for exactly that purpose — writing as if it were going to be fought over in court. I call this legalese legal dis-ease. Write your intentions down in your own hand-writing for inclusion in your estate plan so that you don’t risk miscommunication or misunderstanding among surviving family members.
There is no perfect time to discuss end-of-life care. Most seniors would prefer to age in place at home, as independently as possible. But too few take the time to discuss their preferences with their family, leaving family caregivers
stressed and scrambling. The most important thing any family can do to prepare for a loved one to live at home is to talk about it today.
Before you panic about the new “Hawai‘i Aid in Dying Law,” it’s a great law but not for the reasons you may think. Governor Ige signed the Our Care, Our Choice Act on April 5, 2018 and it will become law on January 1, 2019. The new law’s purpose is to establish a regulated process whereby a mentally competent adult resident of Hawai‘i with a terminal illness and less than six months to live may choose to end life with a prescription.