One guarantee that we all share in life is the inevitability of death.
It might feel morbid to start thinking about your own death, especially when it feels far away, however planning for end-of-life early can be an excellent tool for clarifying your values and what matters most to you in life, so you can live better now.
According to a July 2017 study by Health Affairs, just over 30% of adults have an advance directive, and close to 30% have a living will. The study also revealed that individuals over 65 years old and those who have an illness are more likely to have end-of-life plans in place.
It’s Never too Soon to Get Your Affairs in Order
This data probably isn’t surprising. When you’re younger or haven’t faced a serious illness, death feels far away. But it’s important to remember that injury and illness are often unexpected and can come at any age.
Making plans now will ensure that no matter when your time comes your voice will be heard and wishes and goals will be met in regards to your medical care, finances, pets, dependents, end of life celebration requests, and the ability to say goodbye to loved ones on your terms. It will help your loved ones too, as they will have more time and space to grieve your loss, instead of searching through your personal information or wondering what you would have wanted.
9 Steps For End of Life Planning
If you’re ready to start on the journey of planning for end-of-life, here is where to start.
Step 1: Choose one location to store important documents and information
The following steps will outline which information you’ll want to gather, but having one safe location to keep all of it, so that your loved ones can easily access it all is essential. A location where these documents aren’t likely to be damaged or misplaced and where next of kin can find it quickly will be best.
There are several versions of The Nokbox, including a fireproof edition that meet this need. In addition they all come with pre-labeled and organized folders, checklists, and instructions to fill the box with the essential information we will be going over in the following steps.
Step 2: Create an advance directive
An advance directive outlines your medical care preferences if you are in a state where you aren’t able to make informed decisions. It can also appoint someone to make those decisions for you. It can also specify your wishes in regards to life-sustaining treatments and organ donation. You can consult a lawyer or use an online legal website and resources to create one.
Step 3: Create a will or trust
This will ensure that your assets and personal possessions are accounted for and distributed according to your wishes. You can look into the differences and whether a will or trust will better meet your personal needs or consult a legal or estate planning professional to get guidance.
Step 4: Organize financial information
Put a list together of your financial accounts so that next of kin will know what you have. This includes your bank accounts, retirement accounts, any investments, and insurance policies. Specify how to access these accounts without sharing too many details that could make them insecure if the wrong person found the information. The Nokbox comes with a checklist for this, so you can be sure you are sharing exactly what you need to.
Step 5: Detail your digital accounts
Compile a list of the online accounts and subscriptions that you have so that next of kin can easily access and shut down or update them according to your wishes. This includes social media accounts.
Step 6: Document keys
Make a list of important keys and where they can be found. If possible you can also leave a copy of the key in the same secure location you care storing your other important information. This would include keys to your home, other properties, vehicles, safety deposit boxes, or other valuables.
Step 7: Outline dependent care and pet care
If you have children, elderly parents, or anyone else you are responsible for caring for, it is essential to outline their care plan. Your will or trust will also likely outline this care, but providing some extra detail for the person stepping in could be really helpful. This is the same for any pets you have. This could include feeding instructions, doctor or vet care, medications, and even the nuanced preferences of those you are caring for. This is valuable not only at the end of life but in the event of an emergency where someone might need to temporarily step in and assist with this care as well. `
Step 8: Outline your end of life celebration wishes
If there is anything you’d want your loved ones to do or specifics around the tone of a potential end of life celebration you can make note of it so that these wishes can be followed through on. This will ensure that any gathering or event hosted by loved ones will reflect you personally in relation to your values and beliefs.
Step 9: Say goodbye - your way
Taking an extra step of writing letters or recording videos to loved ones (and updating them every few years) and storing them with these other important documents can bring peace of mind. It’s also a great exercise in gratitude and recognizing, even just personally, the wonderful people around you. This provides an opportunity to provide any other details you might only want one person to be aware of or to share other wishes and gratitudes with that individual specifically.
The Nokbox Makes End of Life Planning and Organization for Next of Kin Easy
With The Nokbox, detailed checklists and instructions for each of these steps is included as well as the safe location where you can store it all. Along with these steps, the Nokbox includes premade folders with 15 categories to cover every essential aspect of your life.
The only thing you have to do is add in the details.