May 16, 2023

Documents to Put in Place Before Death

Preparing for death means safeguarding your family from potential emotional and financial fallout. Being prepared also includes having the right documents in place, so your family doesn’t have to deal with paperwork while grieving.

The most important documents to put in place before death include the following:

DNR Order

Thinking about death is unpleasant. But, at some point, you must decide whether you want extraordinary measures taken if you’re in a hospital during your impending death. If you sign a do-not-resuscitate or DNR order, you will die a natural death after your health deteriorates to a critical level. Discuss this decision with your family, so they know what to expect when the time comes.

Living Will

A DNR order can also be part of your living will. Your living will should contain your healthcare preferences, such as being an organ donor and if you want to be tube-fed during end-of-life care. A living will is binding and enforces your wishes regarding healthcare when you can no longer speak for yourself.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament document leaves your legacy in the hands of your family (and, in certain circumstances, your friends). It determines which of your loved ones will manage your estate and who will inherit your possessions. More importantly, your last will and testament contain details about who will care for your minor children and your pets.

A last will and testament must be in place to prevent your family from fighting over your assets and property. Such conflict may lead to a rift in your extended family.

Financial and Medical Power of Attorney

Besides the above-mentioned documents, you should choose people to act as financial and medical power of attorney. A financial power of attorney allows a person to take over your financial decisions and affairs when you can no longer manage them.

Meanwhile, a medical power of attorney allows someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. This medical power of attorney only comes into effect if you become incapacitated.

Official Identification Documents

You should have a copy of your I.D. and a copy of your driver’s license in your “life file,” along with copies of identification documents of the people you choose to assume the role of financial and medical power of attorney. If you’re married, you need to include a copy of your marriage certificate, and if you’re divorced, you should have a copy of your divorce agreement inside the file.

You can also simplify matters for your family after you pass away by keeping a list of passwords and PINs for electronic devices and bank accounts. Deeds, titles, car ownership documents, ownership documentation for businesses – all these should go in the file. If you have insurance policies, write down the details as well as the contact details of your broker.

Details on Social Media Accounts and Outstanding Debts

Included in your life file should be instructions about what you want to do with your social media accounts. You should also list detailed instructions on any outstanding debts you may have. In some instances, it may be possible for a family member to take money from your estate to pay outstanding debts.

The Bottom Line

No matter how hard we try to avoid the topic of death, death itself will stare each one of us in the face someday. Make your passing easier on your family by having all the necessary documents available in one place. It is best to keep your life file inside a safe and leave a copy on a thumb drive with someone you trust.

For more information, contact Wyuka Cemetery at (402)-474-3600.


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