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The Importance of End of Life Documentation

Only 1 in 3 Americans have an estate plan, meaning that the majority of Americans will pass away without having put their end-of-life documentation in place. 

Thinking about and planning for the final phases of our lives isn’t something we typically yearn to do.  It certainly helps explain why so many of us procrastinate and hesitate to put our affairs in order. 

Planning for our eventual sunset is important because it ensures that our wishes will be honored, even when we no longer have a voice. Further, it can provide significant peace of mind for ourselves and our loved ones. Putting our estate planning and end-of-life documentation in place can address our financial needs, but it can also address other important aspects such as your future health care and final arrangements.

In this next section, we’ll highlight 6 end-of-life documents you should make sure to have. The explanations of each document will help provide insight as to how they can make a significant positive impact for you and your family.


6 End-of-Life Documents Everyone Should Have

There is a wide array of estate planning tools available at your fingertips. Each of these tools are designed to help fit a person’s unique circumstances and needs. Instead of approaching estate planning as a predetermined set of documents, one should view it as something that is highly flexible and customizable.


Here, we introduce 6 basic documents that pertain specifically to end-of-life planning. These are suggestions for what makes up a great starting off point.



  • Living Trust
    A Living Trust is a legal document that arranges how your property should be distributed when you pass away. It’s similar to a Will in the sense that it can be used to decide on inheritances for your assets and property. However, property transferred to the Trust is technically owned by the Trust, and thus removes it from your estate. Therefore, Trust property is kept out of the probate process (a major advantage.)

With a Living Trust, you still get to maintain control over the property during your lifetime. Upon your passing, the alternate Trustee of your choosing will take over and manage the Trust on your behalf.



  • Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is used to appoint a trustworthy individual, an “agent”,  who is legally authorized to act on your behalf. There are several different types of POAs, each of which have set parameters of what decisions they’re allowed to make.

For instance, a Financial Power of Attorney can only make financial decisions on your behalf, while a General Power of Attorney can conduct a wide array of tasks for you. POAs come into effect when you become incapacitated (but alive) and are unable to make decisions or communicate such decisions on your own.


  • Health Care Documents

There are a number of estate planning documents that can pertain specifically to your future medical care arrangements. Common examples include a Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney, which together make up your Advance Directive. You can also include medical documents such as your HIPAA authorization form and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

Each of these documents work together to ensure your wishes regarding your own medical care are honored. This is critical in situations where you are incapacitated and cannot make or communicate your wishes on your own. Your medical care team and your medical POA will refer to your documents and make decisions that align with your wishes.



  • Personal and financial records
    Although personal records technically are not legal estate planning documents, organizing your personal documents and financial records can prove extremely helpful. Important documents such as bank account statements, birth certificates, and property deeds are all vital to the process of administering your estate.


  • Last Will & Testament
    A Last Will & Testament (Will for short) is the foundational document of any Estate Plan. A Will can be used to arrange for the distribution of inheritances, but you can also use it to name an Executor to your estate and name a Guardian for your dependents and pets. You can also use your Will to communicate your wishes and any important information you wish to be passed along to loved ones.



  • Final Arrangements
    Along with your Will, you can also choose to include instructions for final arrangements. This might include a self-written obituary, a funeral plan, and end-of-life celebration instructions. Providing your clear vision can help alleviate your loved ones from having to make difficult  decisions during a time of grief and loss.

Thinking about our sunset days can be worrisome, but making your final plans and arrangements can bring on a sense of peace and relief.


If you feel ready to put your end-of-life documents in place, we have a great offer for you. Aging at Home Association members can receive 10 percent off of their estate plans through Trust & Will. Log into your member portal to claim the offer.