end of life plan

6 Steps to Start Your End of Life Plan

PARTNER POST: This article was written by Trust & Will partner, Lantern.

Most of us know we need an end of life plan. But, few know what a full end of life plan really is. It’s a common misconception that end of life planning means having your legal affairs in order. If you have a will, advanced care directive and guardianship in place then well done! You’re well on your way to completing an end of life plan. Still, there are more pieces to consider. At Lantern, we provide step by step guidance on navigating life before and after a death. You can complete a full end of life plan with Lantern or, consider your next steps using the outline below:

  1. Legal Matters. Obviously! And lucky for you, you’re already on Trust & Will. If you haven’t already, get your legal documents done here
  2. Final Wishes. Write down what you want for your end of life celebration. This includes burial, cremation or alternative methods as well as who you want to speak, what music is played or any other unique elements. Your funeral or memorial service is a celebration of you — make sure it represents who you are and what you’d want.
  3. Financials. In the US, the average funeral costs between $7,000 – $10,000 and families are often required to pay in-full and up front. Ease the financial burden on your friends and family by putting aside money pre-need. You can even secure many of the planning logistics in advance through a funeral home or alternative method. 
  4. Benefits. After you pass away, your beneficiaries may be eligible for a wide range of benefits (i.e. social security, veterans) as well as access to life insurance policies or pre-paid funeral arrangements. Billions of dollars in life insurance and pre-paid arrangements go unclaimed, make sure your beneficiaries know where this information lives. 
  5. Possessions and Accounts. Ask anyone who’s lost someone and more often than not they will cite closing accounts and finding paperwork to be the most frustrating logistical challenge. Having your documents and passwords in one secure place will save hours of time and emotional labor during an already incredibly trying time. 
  6. Your History and Legacy. It might feel as though your friends and family know all there is to know about you, but consider writing a letter or answering a few simple questions (i.e. How did you know your partner was the one? What were the highlights throughout your life? What would you want your great, great grandchildren to know about you?) to make it easier for them to remember what made you, you. It might even help them feel connected to you in a new way! 

Liz Eddy is the co-founder and CEO of Lantern, your guide to life before and after a death. Previously she ran communications at Crisis Text Line. She’s also a proud board member of Experience Camps, a free summer camp for grieving kids.