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Preparing to make a good death...................

had you thought..................?

Most of us try to avoid thinking about our own death, let alone that of our loved ones.

Yet much suffering could be avoided, and perhaps much good achieved, by discussing death with our families, and perhaps also with our friends.

If you, and the people around you, understand your feelings and beliefs about your own death, what provisions you have made, and what your wishes are, when the inevitable arrives, be it timely or untimely, you will have created a legacy for those you love, the value of which is beyond measure.
The knowledge of your love, expressed through your forethought, will sustain them through the darkest hours, help them to grieve, and eventually, to move forward with positive memories.

Don't exclude the children - we need to talk to our children about death, and this kind of discussion is an excellent context.

Note: The following questions are confronting, but I ask them because I have myself suffered in these situations. But I am not a lawyer!
Readers should always evaluate these offerings in the context of their own situations; they are suggestions, *not* recommendations.
Any responsibility for their implementation rests *solely* with the reader.
I have not included many links, because the law varies so much between States and Countries. Check with a Community Legal Service or Law Clinic in your own locality.

Here are some of the issues you might consider:

Have you made a Will?

Don't put it off! It's not fair on your family.

Will forms can still be supplied by stationers for a small sum, and contain basic guidelines.
Will Kits cost a little more, but are still pretty basic. Whatever you use, make several certified copies, then place in safe-keeping. Make sure your Executor, if you have appointed one, knows where the original is kept
There are several organisations and some charities who will assist you for little or no cost. Some charge a commission on your estate - make sure you know what is involved before you start.
A free Legal Service may give you information about the legalities, although they don't usually help with the actual Will.
In an emergency a simple written Will should be valid if signed by you in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries, and who sign the Will at the same time, attesting to your signature and your mental competence. Date the Will, state your place of residence at that time, and include, if possible, more details about the witnesses.

If your estate is large, and/or your bequests and/or family is complicated, then you should engage legal assistance.
Discussing the terms of your Will with family and anyone else involved is courteous, but a decision only you can make. It is not desirable in all circumstances.
A beneficiary in the Will can be appointed as an Executor. It is not mandatory to ask permission of your intended Executor, or even or advise him or her of your intentions, but again this a matter of courtesy.

It's a good idea to review your Will from time to time. It's essential to do so after a major change in the family. Marriage (but not divorce!) can invalidate a Will. The death of a beneficiary can pose major problems if the necessary adjustments are not made.

How do you want to be treated at the end of your life? Have you made an Advance Directive?

An Advance Directive, sometimes called a Living Will, or similar legal document, can be completed while you are mentally competent, making clear your wishes as to medical treatment at end of life, should you not be able to communicate them when the time comes.
It is very important to discuss this with your family and/or next of kin, so that they clearly understand your wishes.
Check directly with your local legal jurisdiction - not your medical practitioner or solicitor - about the provisions that apply to you.
If you are fortunate enough to have a GP who really understands local conditions & is in favour of Advance Directives, discussing it with her would be really helpful. But with so many group practices, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay with a particular doctor.

Unfortunately, doctors have been know to ignore such documents, because of their personal belief systems, even in places where they are legally binding. Solicitors can also be unhelpful if their own convictions are challenged.
This is still a very fluid & controversial area, so watch for changes in legislation, and in medical technology. Review your Directive from time to time.

Various forms of Guardianship can be set up in advance, but they vary enormously. If you have any concerns about what might happen to you and your property if you become severly disabled, or unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself, you can investigate what is available in your locality.

In all the above, bear in mind that arrangements made in one State may not be valid if you move into another.

Have you considered organ donation? And have you discussed this with your next of kin?

After you die, your body in most cases becomes the property of your next of kin. So it's important they should understand your wishes.
They could legally act on their own preferences, so there are no guarantees, but that's no reason not to make the attempt.
If you wish to donate your organs, at least make sure your wishes are recorded in the donor registry, and on, or on a card with, your Driving Licence.

Do you have ambulance insurance?

The cost of ambulance transport, if not covered, can be a dreadful shock to a bereaved family, in some cases being as much as the funeral expenses.
If you have medical or health cover, check the fine print to find out just what ambulance cover they provide. If this is limited, or if you don't have such insurance, please consider taking out separate ambulance insurance.

If you travel a great deal, check that your travel insurance covers transportation of your body back home, or you could end up being buried far from family and friends.

Do you always carry ID & details of your next of kin?

This simple step can save time and resources.
In case of accident, it may make enough difference to enable you to see your family before you die.
Carrying essential medical details as well, and/or a Medic Alert disc may save your life.

What about your funeral?

Do you know what kind of farewell you would like? Are you environmentally conscious? Have specific spiritual beliefs? Willing to plan ahead? See, on this site Funerals & burials

Even a simple funeral can be expensive, adding to pain and stress at the time of death, especially if it's untimely.

There are funeral plans - a specific form of insurance, Pre-paid funerals, and Life Insurance options that include immediate provision of funds for funeral expenses.

Pre-paid funerals allow you to specify the exact details of your funeral, from choosing burial or cremation, right down to the choice of coffin, the cost calculated accordingly.
But you should check what happens if you die interstate or abroad.
Funeral plans give the choice of how to use the funds to your named beneficiary under the plan.
Some Life Insurance companies may disburse advance funds to the beneficiary, with certain conditions. Check your policy for details.

Back to Death & Dying

VOLUNTARY EUTHANIASIA
is controversial, & currently only available in a few enlightened Legislatures, though hopefully this will gradually change.

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