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5 Advance Care Planning Tips So Your Family Would Know What To Do if You Suddenly Died


If you were to die tomorrow, would your family know what to do?  Unless you’ve done some advance care planning and pulled your affairs in order, the answer would be no.

Last week, I posted this question to the Facebook Group that I moderate:  “It’s Time to Talk” with Patti Urban.

No sooner had I posted this question when I received a message from the brother of one of my caregivers who works for me that she had died from unknown causes.  She was 27 years old, had a 7 year old son, no dad in the picture, no will, no guardian for her child, and no life insurance.  No one knows her passwords for her on-line world.

In addition to her parents and her brother trying to set up funeral plans for her in the midst of their incredible grief, they also needed to figure out how to care for her son, untangle her finances, undo leases for her apartment and car, and so on.  You get the picture.

Her family, while dealing with this mind-numbing grief, will now have to focus on all these matters.  It’s very sad, particularly for her son.  Most people don’t think about putting their affairs in order at 27 years of age.  Why?  Because we have not been taught how to plan our lives.  However, as a mom, she absolutely needed to address advance care planning.

What could or should she have done differently?

The answer:  at least the basics of advance care planning.  Realistically, who does this especially at 27?  As our world gets more complicated, and as our digital footprint expands, the need for this type of planning is growing.

Here are 5 easy tips for getting started:

  1. Make sure you complete your Advance Directives.  This is a simple way of letting other knows what your care preferences in the event you cannot speak for yourself.  Advance Directives consist of a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy, someone to ensure your Living Will is followed.
  2. Make a list of all your key contacts. This should include family members, important friends and business contacts
  3. Take the time put all your passwords in some kind of spreadsheet and let others know where it is. This is probably the most time consuming of all.
  4. Put all bank records, investments, wills, etc. in a secure area. Do not put them in a safe deposit box.
  5. Plan a family meeting to discuss what your wishes are and make sure everyone knows where all your documents are stored.

This list is by no means complete.  But it is a good starting point.  Good luck!

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