With life these days being busy, hectic and more complicated than ever, I find myself working harder to simplify and remove stress whenever possible. My wife Marci and I are working on decluttering our house room by room – a daunting task, but gratifying for us both. We are also trying to be intentional about how we spend our time. This effort has required us to learn how to balance the demands of work, family, and friends. Managing the many competing facets of life requires some intentional planning.
One of the less fun things to plan is your estate and financial affairs. No one cares to contemplate not being here with loved ones; however, at the end of the estate planning process you and your family experience relief. There is a sense of well-being knowing that when the inevitable occurs, your affairs are in order. Completing the process before it is needed is key. It is challenging enough to address your estate planning when you are healthy but is even more difficult when you have a life-threatening illness.
Below I offer some items to consider during your estate planning process:
- Begin your estate planning by writing down what you own, who you want to play a role in your financial and healthcare decisions, and what you want to accomplish. Click here to download my estate planning questionnaire to help you organize the information needed to develop your estate plan.
- Your estate plan should address potential incapacities throughout your lifetime, not just what happens upon your death. Completing a Durable Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney and an Appointment of a Healthcare Representative allows designated persons to assist you with your finances and healthcare if you become unable to do so yourself. It is also beneficial to appoint a guardian of your person and estate, and to execute a HIPPA release to ensure the people meant to help have access to necessary medical information.
- End-of-life care is also an important part of any estate plan. You can ensure that your wishes are known and carried out by completing a living will, and in Indiana, the Indiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST). These documents serve as a guide for your caregivers and medical professionals. In general, a living will addresses your wishes when your physician has certified you are terminally ill. The POST program alters the kind of treatments you receive near the end of life to be consistent with your preferences. Finally, a funeral planning declaration should also be considered to provide your family with your final wishes.
I am familiar with how a life-threatening illness can make life planning a reality and even more challenging. This past year I participated in a radio show with the Cancer Support Community to address life planning for individuals with cancer. In the show, Frankly Speaking About Cancer, Clara Anderson Sainte, MSW, Program Director of the Kansas City Gilda’s Club and myself addressed various life planning issues and estate planning. I believe the show provides some good insights on how to use estate planning tools in your life planning process, even if you or a family member are not facing a life-threatening illness.
I recommend starting your life and estate planning as soon as possible. The Pittman PC Team is here to help make the process smooth and comprehensive. Reach out to us to make an appointment today.