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Final Years Planning: Where to Find Assistance

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Developing a final years plan may seem overwhelming, but it really boils down to one word: communication. Talking is among the most important aspects of this plan, according to experts from Dignity Memorial® and Home Instead®. Communicating with professionals and family can help ensure important elements of a plan are in place.

North American seniors surveyed who have made their arrangements cite not wanting their loved ones to deal with making arrangements (64 percent) and peace of mind (62 percent) as the most common reasons for doing so, according to a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead network.

Following are key aspects of a plan you might consider and the individuals who may be able to help:

Consult with an attorney. An estate-planning attorney can help you and your older loved ones determine what documents need to be in place, such as a power of attorney. In general, power of attorney gives individuals the authority to act for another person in specified or all legal or financial matters. Most often, if a power of attorney is durable, it remains valid and in effect even if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. Generally, if a power of attorney document does not explicitly say that the power is durable, it ends if you become incapacitated.

A medical power of attorney, on the other hand, is generally a document that allows individuals to designate a trusted family member, friend, or other individual to make medical decisions in their place in the event they become unconscious or mentally incapable of making those decisions for themselves.

The person designated to make medical decisions on another individual’s behalf is oftentimes called an agent. The agent is given broad authority to make any health-care decisions the individual could have made if he or she were not incapacitated, unless the individual specifically restricts the agent’s authority.

A will is a document many people use to determine how property will be distributed. Sometimes, a will contains advance directives that may include a living will to document medical wishes at the end of life.

A free resource document called The Five Wishes helps family and doctors know:

  1. Whom you want to make healthcare decisions for you when you can't make them for yourself.
  2. The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want.
  3. How comfortable you want to be.
  4. How you want people to treat you.
  5. What you want your loved ones to know.

Please note: This is intended for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Laws surrounding end-of-life documents vary by state. Consult your attorney with any specific questions surrounding end-of-life legal documents.

Locate a financial planner. Consulting a financial expert could help ensure a plan is in place that provides the funds for a full and fulfilling life. According to the National Association of Certified Financial Planners, a financial planner may provide guidance on financial topics such as:

  • The age at which you can afford to retire
  • The amount of monthly savings needed to reach your financial target
  • Insurance concerns
  • Diversification of your portfolio and your investments
  • Estate documents in case of incapacitation or death
  • Tax strategies

Find a funeral director. A trusted funeral director can help put a plan in place for how you want to celebrate a life as well as fund a plan. An honest conversation with a reliable funeral director can customize a service for any budget, noted Bob Boetticher, Jr., Dignity Memorial market director. “If you say, ‘I only have ‘x’ dollars,’ that’s no problem. We can be creative. We will try to figure out what we can do with your budget to give you what you want.” Dignity Memorial's location finder can help you find a funeral home in your area.

Research resources that can support final years’ preferences. If a goal is to stay at home for as long as possible – and even to die at home – you can find out what’s available in your community to help maintain independence for as long as possible. Contact your local Home Instead office as well as a local Area Agency on Aging office.

Confer with an aging in place specialist. Many people want to age at home, but their homes are not equipped to help them do that. Follow these suggestions to help make home a safe place to be and contact a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to discover how a home could be adapted for aging issues.

Tie up loose ends. Relationship issues and disagreements can put a damper on any end-of-life plan. Tying up loose ends in the final years of life can be freeing and allows a focus on making the most of each day. Ask for forgiveness to repair a relationship, reconnect with old friends and spread a little kindness throughout your world.

In the course of a lifetime, psychologists often point to the importance of expressing these five sentiments:

  1. “I love you.”
  2. “Thank you.”
  3. “Forgive me.”
  4. “I forgive you.”
  5. “Goodbye.”

It’s never too late or too early to start a plan. Ninety percent of adults in the Home Instead survey agree you are never too young to start planning for your final years. Composing a life song begins by talking with those people who can help make dreams and wishes come true. Complete the Compose Your Life SongSM music generator to learn more about planning for the final years.

Additional Resources:

The Risks of Not Planning for the Final Years
Financial Planning for Your Final Years: 7 Questions to Consider
Compose Your Life SongSM Music Generator

Last revised: February 23, 2018

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