At the end of every year we like to review and discuss some important issues with our family.
These issues aren’t easy to discuss but they’re absolutely necessary. They’re not necessary because we say so, they’re necessary because every single person will have to deal with this issue eventually…
The issue is death!
We don’t take pleasure in bringing up this inevitability so close to Christmas but as we said before it’s a conversation that is unavoidable. You can either have the conversation with your family without the anxiety or emotions when death seems imminent. Or you can have a logical conversation with your loved ones with a clear head while ensuring your wishes are understood.
Do You Have A Last Will & Testament?
This legal document identifies the individuals or charities who will receive your possessions and/or property after your death.
While there are a number of reasons to ensure you have a “Last Will & Testament” these are the top 3 for us:
- Ability to appoint someone to settle our affairs: This person ensures the beneficiaries receive their inheritance
- Choose who will receive your property: Specify how you would like to transfer property to your heirs
- Decide who you want to raise your kids: Name the right legal guardians for your children if you and your spouse cannot be there.
So what happens if you die without a will?
Dying without a will makes things a lot harder.
If you have not named a beneficiary for certain financial accounts then you’ll have no say over who receives your assets. If you have not already done so please stop what you’re doing right now and fill out the TSP Designation of Beneficiary form.
Without designating a beneficiary, depending on the state law your assets will go into what is called probate. In some states, only 1/2 of one’s assets go to the surviving spouse. Depending on your situation, the rest could go to your children, parents or close relatives.
In regards to your children, if you have not designated who will care for them then you run the risk of having a judge decide who cares for them. Remember this varies from state to state, but we can all agree the situation may not be ideal if you leave your children’s fate in the hands of a government official.
Do You And Your Family Members Have Living Wills?
If you’re not familiar with a “Living Will” it is a written statement detailing your wishes regarding medical treatment in the event you were unable to express informed consent.
More specifically, this document states your wishes in regards to ventilators, heart shocks, and other medical interventions to prevent death.
A lot of families make the assumption they are all on the same page but when death is imminent some family members may have disagreements. Imagine suffering from dementia, not knowing your children’s names and not being able to feed yourself. Or being completely brain dead and the only thing keeping you alive is a machine. Would you want extraordinary measures done to keep you alive?
That’s a question, we don’t have the answer for you. But whatever your answer is, your family should know what you would want.
Do You Have A Health Care Proxy?
The actual legal document is called “Health Care Power of Attorney.”
Simply put, this document identifies the person who will be responsible for making medical decisions on your health if and when you are unable to do so.
As we stated previously, in the moment of imminent death family members can want different things regarding your health. If decisions made in that moment are not agreed upon by all parties involved, then you run the risk of fracturing relationships for a lifetime. We’ve seen it happen.
We recommend designating two representatives in succeeding order. After you do this, sit down with both of them on a yearly basis to make sure your wishes are clear. It takes approximately 15 minutes and can prevent a lot of heartache down the road.
Where Do You Want To Die?
Full disclosure, we’re still not sure where we want to die…
- Nursing Home?
- At our home?
- Hospice Care?
These decisions certainly aren’t easy and they may change over time. This is why we believe it’s vital to revisit them every year. Everyone’s decision is personal. If you’d like to care for a loved one or have a loved one care for you in the last stage of life, please ask them now.
Don’t forget about your burial or perhaps you don’t wish to be buried at all. We know we sound like a broken record but again, please have these conversations.
Here are the cemetery basics if you choose to go that route:
- Find a cemetery where you wish to be buried
- Purchase a plot
- Choose a headstone
These are the absolute basics but start your search now.
Have You Considered Nursing Homes or Assisted Living Care?
It’s a tragedy that we even have to mention such a thing but scandals among these types of facilities have been running rampant. Not to mention the high price tag of these facilities.
If you are looking for a facility/provider or want to conduct some research for when the decision arrives. Then be sure to visit the government’s website on nursing homes. This site is very useful. It allows you to compare ratings and locations among thousands of nursing homes. For a U.S. government site, it’s surprisingly useful and full of information to help you decide what’s best for your situation.
We hope these five questions have forced open a dialogue with at least yourself and this article has added a little bit to your life. Our Thrift Savings Plan portfolios are important but we believe these 5 questions are equally important. We hope as you consider your mortality or someone else’s, you can talk about it calmly with family.
Start the conversations this upcoming holiday season. Yes they will be a proverbial “dark cloud” but we believe the conversations will be fruitful. Urge your family members to create wills, living wills, and establish health care powers of attorney. And do it for yourself, too.