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The NSPA Blog

Conversations around death and dying: how to protect your loved ones

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Posted on October 23rd, 2018 by Anna Dolezal, under Insurance & Billing, Medical Planning, Patient Tools, Take Charge, Tips & Resources

We all know it’s going to happen at some point, but planning for your own death and dying process is no easy task

Still, preparing for medical emergencies and what will happen when you die is extremely important – especially for the loved ones you may be leaving behind. Most people know they should have a will, but the process is much more complex than that. Here are our top 5 must-dos when it comes to protecting your loved ones after your passing.

  • Take the idea of a will a step further by utilizing POAs

    • Power of Attorneys are critical for decision making when health statuses go south. Health care power of attorneys are designated to make medical decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to make your own. Financial power of attorneys, on the other hand, will be in charge of making the financial decisions. The law gets murky when these positions aren’t named. Family members may be left to negotiate difficult decisions that can be the source of conflict. If you’re unsure of who to name as healthcare POA, consider using a patient advocate.
  • Share passwords and discuss how bills are paid

    • In today’s technological landscape, many bills are paid online. Managing passwords can feel overwhelming, especially with the number of breaches we see. Password managers can be a helpful tool. We recommend Dashlane, which can be found here. Even without a password manager, though, you should consider keeping a master list that you share with a loved one. In the case of an emergency, they’re going to need that information to take over or close any accounts. While you’re at it…
  • Make a list of key contacts

    • Whether it’s your lawyer, account, or even best childhood friend, you want to keep track of the people who need to be alerted if something goes wrong. Sharing the news of a loved one passing can be extremely difficult. It can be even worse when a person doesn’t know and asks about it months later, bringing back a rush of painful emotion. This list can be done digitally, but can also be useful in physical form. Physical records haven’t totally disappeared yet, which is why we recommend…
  • Gather and review your important papers

    • We mentioned a will earlier. Wills are key, and so are is keeping them up-to-date. They should at least be reviewed every few years. If you have a copy at home, you should keep it with other important documents like deeds and passports. Estate documents and insurance policies also belong together.
  • Finally, have some explicit conversations about funeral plans

    • No one wants to think about the funeral of a loved one. Yet, you have to. And take it from us, it’s much better to have these conversations with a loved one while they’re alive, rather than trying to figure out what’s best after their death. Do this for the sake of all your loved ones. This brings back up family conflict, but it can also be a source of guilt. Planning a perfect ceremony and buying the best headstone seem ideal, but funerals cost money. Discuss how you want your resources to be used. One document we recommend for guiding these difficult conversations is called 5 Wishes, and can be found here. It helps ease families through this difficult, yet fundamentally important topic.

As always, we welcome your feedback! Anything you think we missed? Feel free to comment or follow up with any questions.

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