The Basics

by Jill Francis on April 19th, 2015

My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's thirteen years ago and fortunately, my father began to make some plans and preparations then. The upside to a long term, terminal illness is that it gives you time to plan, but even then there are things he didn't know to do or think to do. What we didn't realize is that Momma would lose her ability to write and sign her name very early in the illness and that made some things harder later. 

If you are a senior, have parents who are seniors or have a family member diagnosed with a terminal illness, start talking and start doing. Have conversations about Advanced Medical Directives (check out the Five Wishes at ), a Power of Attorney, an estate executor, a medical executor, and a Last Will and Testament for starters. Discuss burial versus cremation desires, pay for the funeral and make those arrangements early. Check that off the "to do" list so it's done. Those are the "Must Dos".   Have your loved one sign all legal documents while they can, including permission to remove them from mortgages and time-share mortgages in the case of a long term illness. Of course, seek legal representation from an estate attorney to make sure you've covered all of your bases. 

Once you have the foundation laid, you can talk about bank accounts, insurance policies, online passwords and how you want property divided. You can talk about the end-of-life service: does your loved one want a funeral, memorial service or Life Celebration?  I have a friend who wants a Memorial Party with Cosmopolitans served and John Denver music played. 

Life is hard and sometimes it's harder due to our own poor choices. Death is hard and sometimes it's harder due to our lack of planning.  Let's make both easier:  choose well, plan well. 

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