What to Do Before a Loved One Passes Away

One of the most difficult things any of us will ever face is the passing away of a loved one. There is no way around it; death is an emotionally wrenching time. There are several things you and your loved ones can do to make the decisions and process surrounding a death much easier.

The first thing you should do is talk—to your spouse, your partner, your children, your parents, and your closest friends. Even brief statements about your wishes and desires for end-of-life care, burial choices, bequests, and the handling of your estate are valuable tools for your loved ones. If your loved ones know your desires, they can honor you by making appropriate choices if, or when, you are unable to act on your own behalf.

Couples should discuss their wishes together and commit to upholding each other’s choices, even knowing how difficult it may be to carry out those choices. Parents should regularly sit down with their children and have age-appropriate discussions about their wishes and expectations. If one child has been selected as a decision-maker under a Power of Attorney, or another legal document, that should be made clear. It is important for adult children to hear their parents’ plans and choices and have the chance to ask questions to put information into context. Talking is the best start, and then you need to put some power into your words by having an estate plan.

Your estate plan will be made up of several documents that work together during your lifetime and after your death. The key documents generally include a will, a trust, financial powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and a living will. Through these documents, you give others the legal tools to handle your affairs in the manner you desire. Making tough decisions for a loved one is just that: tough. Knowing those tough decisions are made according to your wishes will ease the burden by reducing emotional angst and family drama.

As the “Trustmaker” of your estate plan, you provide a simple and complete way of dealing with your needs, your passing, your assets and, when appropriate, the transfer of those assets to your beneficiaries. Your Successor Trustee will have a wide range of powers and responsibilities, which become effective upon your death or incapacity, or whenever you choose to transfer management of the trust. Good estate planning provides a thorough, systematic approach for handling your affairs that will give you the peace of mind that you deserve about your future.

At Kling Law Offices, we strive to help you plan for your future and to help your loved ones successfully navigate a life without your presence. To help accomplish that, we offer a Successor Trustee Handbook for free download on our website. We urge everyone to start their planning with a conversation among loved ones, followed by a phone call to our office for a free consultation about the power of a properly executed estate plan.