Royce Shook

4 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Putting your affairs in order

Moving into the final phases of life, calls for thinking about things that you might have put off before.  This includes many of life’s philosophical questions and looking back on life and thinking about what you did well and what you regret.  But aside from those reflective questions, there are some basic things you should do now to “put your affairs in order” so that in the event you come to that final day of your life, your children and those charged with such affairs know what to do.

It seems almost morbid to “put your affairs in order” early in your retirement life when you are healthy and active and there is no obvious threat that the end is near.  But these are not decisions that should be put off until your health begins to decline when you are significantly older.  These are decisions that call for a mature and thoughtful review by a retired boomer fully in command of his or her faculties.  That means that putting your affairs in order is something to do now and not procrastinate about.

After all, when you started a family, you didn’t wait until the children were grown to buy life insurance or think about their education.  You took care of that when they were still crawling around in diapers because that is what mature adults do.  So now its time to be a mature adult about the end of life paperwork so those affairs are in order and ready for when they are needed.  The kinds of end of life issues that should be decided paid for and settled now and by you include…

  • The settlement of life insurance and who has the authority to close it out.
  • Is your will up to date and correct?  This should be reviewed at least every two or three years even if your assets have not changed because there may be other details that should/could be altered. 
  • Are your medical directives decided and signed?     In BC we have Representative Agreements that allow us to appoint someone to take charge of our health issues if we cannot speak for ourselves. You can also set up a DNR decision about whether you wish to have your life prolonged if you are on artificial life support after a catastrophic illness or injury. This is a “Do Not Resuscitate” order and what you decide will be the law to medical teams who are caring for you during those final days.   Don’t leave this decision to loved ones to agonize over when they will already be in emotional distress.  Be the adult and make those decisions now and make sure your children and loved ones know what your decisions are.
  • You should also set up a Power of Attorney to have someone take care of your financial and legal affairs if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • Are there other legal documents for the disposition of business assets? If so, how do you wish to see these legal affairs handled properly documented and in good legal order?  A final review by your lawyers will give you peace of mind that these documents will not be susceptible to legal action after you are gone.
  • Will you be an organ donor? If so, have you made your wishes known to your family and friends?
  • Do you have your funeral arrangements decided?  It is you who should decide where you will be buried, whether cremation is preferred and other details of the ceremony. If there are particular songs you want to have sung at your funeral, a church or minister you want to see handle the ceremony or other details that are important to you, document those so your loved ones can observe your wishes.  Many people prepay for the burial plot and casket in advance.  This is an act of love if you do this and take that burden off of your loved one’s minds.

Of all of the end of life decisions you will make, the most important one will be making sure all of these documents can be found and that you have carefully trained a trusted friend or relative in finding and executing these documents.  The last thing you want to happen is for your children to have to hunt through boxes of old documents to find life insurance papers, your will or other important ends of life documents. 

Create good legible copies that are legally correct and secure them where they are safe and easy to locate.  Go through them with your executor or who will be responsible for them so they know exactly how your will and other affairs should be administered.  And make sure everybody has copies including all of your children and everyone who is mentioned in the will.  In this way, there will be no questions when the time comes and everyone will know what to do.


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