Moving into the phase of life of a senior citizen 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 apparent 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 senior citizen fully in command of his or her faculties.
That means that putting your affairs in order is something to do now and not procrastinate. 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. Now is the time to be a mature adult about end-of-life paperwork, so those affairs are in order and ready for when 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 from time to time if your assets change or other details need to be altered.
- Are your medical directives decided and signed?
This includes your 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 called a DNR or “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 are already in emotional distress. Be an adult, make those decisions now, and make sure your children and loved ones know your choices.
- Are the proper legal documents for the disposition of business assets and how you wish to see other legal affairs handled documented correctly 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.
- Do you have your funeral arrangements decided?
You should decide where you will be buried, whether cremation is preferred, and other details of the ceremony. If there are particular hymns you want to have sung at your funeral, a church or minister you want to see handle the ceremony or other important details to you, document those so your loved ones can observe your wishes.
Many prepay for the burial plot and casket in advance. This is an act of love if you do this and take that burden off your loved ones’ minds.
Finding and Executing Your Wishes
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 have happened is for your children to have to hunt through boxes of old papers to find life insurance papers, your will, or other essential end-of-life documents.
Create good legible copies that are legally correct and secure them where they are safe and easy to locate. Please 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.