5274 Scotts Valley Dr., #102 Scotts Valley, CA 95066 831-430-0616 www.VisitingAngels.com/CentralCoast 229 Reindollar Ave., Suite E Marina, CA 93933 831-392-0876
After We’re Gone This past April, my mother-in-law passed away. The death of a loved one is never easy. To add to the stress of losing her, we were also faced with the fact that we didn’t know as much about her financial affairs and end-of-life wishes as we thought. Our family quickly learned the conversation we should have had with her before she died. The Importance of Getting Our Affairs in Order
There is a lot to unpack, but the sooner we get started the better, because it isn’t just seniors who need to be thinking about this. Young people also need to examine what they want at end of life,
My mother-in-law was a super-organized woman. After a career as an executive secretary, she labeled and filed everything and gave us copies of important documents we needed. As she became older, her organization became less accurate, and papers piled up that should have been filed. After she passed, we went searching for her life insurance policy and couldn’t find it. The file folder where we thought we would find it was empty. After hours of searching, we did find an insurance policy, but it was old and we weren’t sure if it was still active or had been cashed out. After many hours of searching, we were able to piece together how her insurance company was sold to another company and the name was changed, yet she never informed us of that “minor” detail. Had we had periodic reviews, we would have known. Talking about death and our end-of-life plan is not easy, but it is necessary and important to have an open, honest, and direct conversation with your loved ones about their wishes. What is outlined in our last will and testament? Are there financial accounts and insurance policies that need to be dealt with? Are there specific personal items we wish to leave to certain people? Who are our beneficiaries, and who needs to be contacted after we pass away? If we are in a serious accident or suffer a debilitating stroke, do we want to be kept on life support? Who will make medical decisions for us if we are unable to?
and how they want their wishes to be carried out. We never know when we may be faced with a serious illness or accident. It is so important to not plan everything in secret and leave your plans a surprise for your loved ones down the road. I know I want my family to be ready when I pass and know exactly what they need to do, rather than muddle through documents they’ve never seen before while grieving. After outlining our end-of-life plan, we should review it with our loved ones each year, or after any serious event or illness, making note of any changes and ensuring the plan is still in line with our wishes. Though my mother-in-law’s organization had gotten lax, she was still an orderly woman. We didn’t have as difficult a time as I have seen other families go through. Upon reflection, the process would have gone much smoother for us if we hadn’t failed to follow up with her each year. End-of-life discussions are not easy conversations to have, but they are essential to everyone understanding your wishes and providing peace of mind to your loved ones. Having these crucial conversations now can alleviate a lot of heartache in the future.
Cindy Saunders, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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