Between Now & Then
A Common-Sense End-of-Life Planning Guide
For Baby Boomers (and the rest of us)
Jeanne C. Hoff
What do you plan to do with the rest of your life between now and then?
Having read the question, do you have an immediate answer? Does the question annoy you, or confuse or worry you? What comes to mind? "I'm too busy to think about that now, and besides, what does it matter?"
The purpose of this book is to introduce you to the idea of planning what you will do with the rest of your life such that you will have no (few) regrets on your last day.
This planning process asks you to do certain things:
- Do your homework Research options and choices. Get as much information as you can.
- Think about what you want/need/should do with the rest of your life.
- Decide what works for you and what does not.
- Speak with the people in your life who will be going on the journey with you. Share your decisions, wishes, plans, intentions, fears, directions with them.
- Act After you have made decisions and have talked about them with your loved ones, then you must take action to make those things happen.
End-of-life planning, as I have defined it, falls into five categories of things to do:
- Funeral and Burial
- Record-Keeping, and
Each category requires attention, and all of them overlap each other in one way or another. It is important for you to know how the decisions you make relative to each of the five categories connect to the others in various ways, and the best way to introduce you to that idea is to give you all the information at one time ... all in one place ... to enable you to make the best possible decisions for yourself and your family between now and then.
The following examples illustrate some of the connections between the five chapters:
- If you decide not to sign a Living Will and a Healthcare Power-of-Attorney, that is a legal decision that could have serious personal consequences for you and your loved ones, and possibly even major financial consequences.
- If you decide to spend most of your money before you retire, that financial decision could have both personal and legal consequences if it causes you to run out of money before you run out of time.
- If you decide that it is too hard to think about making your own funeral plans, so you just skip it, your family could be affected personally and financially.
- If you choose to keep your personal records and important papers in a messy, unprotected way, you could be leaving your family with the problem of sorting it out after your death, and that could have both legal and financial consequences.
- If you make the personal decision to re-marry without consideration of your family and financial situation, the consequences may not only be very personal, but financially and legally costly.
Sooner or later, you will find yourself meeting with the professionals in some or all of these fields, and the information in this book will prepare you to fully engage them in important conversations; for example,
- When a lawyer asks you what you want in your Will
- When a financial planner asks you what you want your money to do for you.
- When a funeral director asks you what you want for the funeral of a loved one.
- When your doctor asks you what kind of end-of-life treatment you want for yourself.
There is much to think about in each of the situations, and not much time in which to come up with your answers if you haven't given them any prior thought. There are no right or wrong answers, and there are no immediate one-word or fill-in-the-blank answers. These questions require thought and conversations, and if you are prepared by knowing the right questions to ask, you can expect to achieve the results you seek. In this book, you will find the questions to ask, and then find some answers so that you will be able to make informed choices when the time comes.
Also, you will find guidance in the process of planning for the rest of your life between now and then. You will learn ways in which to accomplish your goals in each of the five categories. You may be thinking that some of these categories don't apply to you, but, don't be too quick to judge. You will read examples of situations that may come up where you could use some direction, where it would be beneficial for you to understand the details of each category necessary to make wise choices, where it would be useful to have an understanding of the language spoken by the professionals.
20 GOOD REASONS WHY SHOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK
As you read this book, you can begin to see that it is possible for you to:
- See the benefits of planning and the consequences for not planning.
- Gain a basic knowledge of personal, legal, and financial planning.
- Save time, aggravation, and money.
- Reduce potential mistakes by becoming educated and informed.
- Be empowered by knowing the right questions to ask.
- Know that you have an unlimited number of choices available to you.
- Improve the ways you handle money.
- Understand the benefit of saying "no without guilt."
- Protect your assets for yourself and future generations.
- Understand the benefits of honest, complete communication.
- Know what can happen when you "do-it-yourself."
- Recognize the price to be paid for avoiding decisions until later.
- Appreciate the importance of details.
- Reduce family squabbles about money and "stuff."
- Live your life your way, with honesty and integrity.
- Do the things that are important for you before it's too late.
- Learn how to use your time wisely.
- Once and for all, know that your days are numbered.
- Leave behind a legacy of love, harmony, and peace.
- Leave this life without regrets.