a picture frame, forms, house keys, and jewelry are scattered on a table implying end of life planning

Estate Planning and End of Life Choices

The choices we never want to discuss until it is too late need our attention. Making your end-of-life choices is an important part of living. We are all going to die. It's the circle of life and it often brings peace of mind to know that your wishes will be followed out as you have specified.

Estate planning

Most of us have done this for our property and have stipulated how we want our money divided, but estate planning means more than just dividing assets. Your estate will organize your assets and comes into play after you die. Your living will is in play while you are alive but unable to speak. A legal document attached to your estate will is a power of attorney. This specifies who has the power to act on your behalf after your death.

Last will and testament

Making a last will states who will carry out your directions to the trustee and beneficiaries. Everyone should have a will to avoid higher government taxation of assets.

Ways you can complete a will

There are a few things to know about completing a will:

  • A handwritten will must be handwritten by you and you must sign it.
  • You can buy a will kit at a stationary story and it will prompt you to complete it according to their directions.
  • You can also have a will done up by a lawyer. Although more costly you can be assured that all the i’s are dotted, and t’s are crossed. They will also provide you with a witness.

Living will

This will indicates your wishes while you are alive but become incapacitated or unable to communicate. Your living will is not part of your estate will. This is a health care directive that tells everyone in advance what medical treatment you want and how your remains should be handled including organ and science donation.

Start a living will by having open and frank discussions with your family while you are still well and have mental capacity. Talk to them about your wishes so they can be prepared. This living will comes into effect when you are alive but can no longer communicate and terminates at your death. It should be updated regularly as your wishes change. A living will eases the burden on your family to carry your wishes out.


Carefully consider adding a DNR (do not resuscitate) to your tool kit. This is not normally included with every living will and is usually used when the patient is not likely to survive and when the pain will worsen. We are allowing death in a natural way. Your wish to not resuscitate will need to be discussed with the attending physician and family each time it is presented before it can legally be put into place.

Social media

Decide if you want to assign someone to close your social media accounts and have them memorialized.

Legal requirements

Here are some requirements for a will:

  • You must be legal (18 years of age)
  • You must have good mental capacity
  • Having two people as a witness is not always the law but increases the likelihood of acceptance in court
  • A person in the estate will not be a witness, nor should they be directly involved with your healthcare team
  • All wills can be rewritten over time. Normally your legal will is your last will

Contact your local law society to get more information on directives on estate wills, living wills, and DNR’s.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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