End of Life Planning - A Checklist

An elderly lady smiling while on the phone

While the subject of late life planning and preparing for death isn’t something that many people enjoy broaching, it is a very important and sensitive topic to think about, particularly as you grow older and need to start thinking about how you can protect your loved ones and all of your hard-earned assets.

The points below act as a sort of checklist for when it comes to planning ahead, whether you’re planning your life now in order to be prepared, or you’re unfortunately coming to the end of your life and you need to start seriously considering about your end of life plans.

We understand how difficult and potentially upsetting it can be to consider these things, but we're here to help break down your options in a simple way so that it doesn't seem so daunting.

Things to do to prepare for later life

It’s safe to say that thinking about and preparing for later life can be tough to face, especially if you’re in the very real and vulnerable position of having to get your affairs in order before you feel ready.

However, ensuring that you stay well informed throughout your life about the best ways to go about the events at the end of your life will mean that you feel more comfortable and prepared when the sad eventuality happens.

Making a will

Making a will is something that most people will think about in their lifetime, whether that’s when they get married, when they have children or when they’re coming to the end of their life.

It’s not a nice thing to have to think about and organise, but getting your financial and legal matters in order will ensure that your money, investments, property and belongings go to the right people and causes that you wish.

There are numerous steps that you need to carry out when making a will and they’ll likely differ with each individual. As a rough guide however, the following things will need to be organised when making a will:

  • Value your estate - work out the estimated cost of your home, savings and bank accounts, insurance, pension funds, vehicles, trust funds, furniture, antique items and jewellery to determine how much your entire estate is worth.
  • Think about how you want to share out your estate - who do you want to inherit your belongings, savings, house etc?
  • Decide whether you want to leave anything as a gift to charity and make this explicit in your will.
  • Decide on the executor/s of your will - these will be the person/people in charge of distributing your estate to the right people when you die.
  • Write your will - you can choose to create your own entirely from scratch, either by using a solicitor or by doing it yourself online with a professional will-writing service.
  • Sign your will, make sure you get two witnesses to sign it to make sure it's a legally-valid will and store it in a safe place. Make several copies if you need to and make sure they’re stored safely and securely and remember to tell the executor/s of your will where you’ve put it.

You might like: Unmarried Parents - What Are Your Rights and How Can You Protect Your Family

Funeral plans

Planning your funeral arrangements is another important step when it comes to end of life planning.

While you might not be 100% sure of what you want from your funeral just yet, it is a good idea to think about things like whether you want to be buried or cremated, what kind of service you might like to have, the kind of hymns, music and poems you might want to be read/played at your service.

No one wants to have to plan for their own funeral, but it can be a lot of pressure and added heartache to leave all the planning up to your loved ones when you die, so it’s a good idea to try and be as prepared as possible.

Find out more about planning your funeral in our Breakdown of the Cost of Dying guide or read our review of Simplicity Cremations to learn about their prepaid funeral services and costs.

Organ donation

Donating your organs when you die is becoming a much more common thing for people to do nowadays, and it can be a lovely way of thinking that a part of you still remains even when you die.

If donating your organs is something that you want to happen to you when you pass away, make sure you have it in writing and tell your closest loved ones about your plans so that they know it will happen.

Power of attorney

Deciding on the power of attorney isn’t something that everyone wishes to do when it comes to end of life planning, but it can be a good idea to have the power of attorney legal document in place, in the event that you’re no longer able to or no longer wish to make your own decisions.

Power of attorney grants permission for someone else to make decisions for you, whether that’s for your financial affairs, medical decisions or even just where you live.

Read more: Why Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Life insurance

Ensuring that you have a suitable and valid life insurance policy in place is another important thing to consider when planning your future.

Having good life insurance means that you can rest easy in the knowledge that your family will be taken care of financially, and many policies can also help to pay either towards your funeral, or for the entire thing, depending on what kind of policy you have in place.

It can also help your loved ones cover other costs, such as your mortgage, so that they don't have to worry about paying for this themselves. Instead, they can focus on grieving for their loss.

Learn more about the various types of life insurance policies available here: Types of Life Insurance Explained

End of life care

Another important step to take is to think about your end of life care and make a plan for what you’d like to happen before you die.

It’s often quite morbid and sometimes upsetting to think about, but it’s important to consider it and discuss with your closest family and friends the kind of expectations you have for when you’re coming to the end of your life.

For example, you might explicitly wish to not go into a nursing home and instead wish to die at home. Or you might want to think about whether you’d want to continue taking life-prolonging medication, even if it’s not actually making you any better.

These are all incredibly difficult and often heartbreaking decisions to make, but the more prepared you are for these kinds of eventualities, the more comfortable you’ll feel knowing that your loved ones are prepared and protected.

Related guides