Anyone who has dealt with end-of-life administration for a loved one knows that many decisions have to be made immediately after a person passes away. It can be overwhelming to handle these arrangements while you are actively grieving. You can make your passing easier for your family by documenting your wishes, organizing your critical information, and setting up your finances in anticipation of the last part of your earthly life.
What is End-of-Life Planning?
End-of-life planning formalizes your wishes for the end of your life and documents everything your loved ones need to know. It includes:
- organizing your financial and personal information
- making a will and designating an agent for your medical and financial decisions
- planning your memorial service
- specifying your wishes around the process of your passing
- Make sure your loved ones know where to find your information and documents.
Why is End of Life Planning Important?
The most important reason to do end-of-life planning is to relieve stress on your loved ones. Think of it as a final gift that you are preparing for them.
End-of-life planning also gives you control over what happens to you and your assets in your final days. Setting everything up in advance ensures that your wishes are respected and your directions are followed. If you bring your family into the process, you can also resolve any differences of opinion ahead of time before critical decisions have to be made.
End-of-Life Document Checklist
Some documents you’ll need for your end-of-life planning may already be available, but others you’ll need to arrange. Go through this list carefully, set the time aside to acquire anything you don’t have yet, and research the things you’re not prepared to decide.
|Document||Why You Need It||What’s Involved|
|Last Will and Testament||It specifies how your assets will be divided and designates a guardian of your minor children and a guardian of your pets.||Depending on the complexity of your estate, you can do this using an online form or have a lawyer prepare it for you.|
|Power of Attorney (POA) for Personal Care||Designates someone to make healthcare decisions for you when you cannot make them yourself.||You can do this free with a downloadable kit or have a lawyer prepare it.|
|Power of Attorney (POA) for Property||Designates someone to make financial decisions and manage your property on your behalf.||You can do this free with a downloadable kit or have a lawyer prepare it.|
|Living Will (aka Advance Directive, Advance Care Directive, or Representation Agreement)||Designates someone to make healthcare decisions for you about life-saving medical interventions and gives instructions to healthcare providers about what to do if you become unresponsive and need such an intervention. These instructions can also be stated in your POA for Personal Care.||You can do this free with a downloadable kit or have a lawyer prepare it. This will vary by province: be sure to choose the right one.|
|Revocable living trust||Sets property aside for beneficiaries and designates a trustee to administer the assets. It gives you more control over how your property is dispersed and avoids probate.||Transfer your assets into a trust or trusts. Designate a trustee to take over the administration of the trust(s) after you pass away. Have a lawyer draft the appropriate documents, including rules for or restrictions on the trust.|
|Beneficiary designations for non-probate assets||Some assets transfer to the beneficiary without going through probate, including life insurance death benefits, your CPP death benefit, RPPs, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, and RDSPs. Designate beneficiaries for them; otherwise, they’ll go to your estate and probate court.||Designate a beneficiary through each asset individually.|
|Pet Trust||Designates someone to look after your pets after you pass away and provide for their financial needs.||It can be included in your will or set up as a separate trust. Research the details, as the laws vary by province.|
|Life insurance||It provides your family with funds to cover final expenses and gives them financial protection.||Purchase from a life insurance provider or a licensed insurance broker.|
|Usernames, passwords, and instructions for digital assets||Ensures your loved ones can access any digital accounts you have.||Record this information and store it in a secure location such as an online password keeper.|
|End-of-life housing arrangements||Specifies where you want to spend the last part of your life: at home, at a nursing home, in hospice, etc.||Discuss this with your family and make arrangements in advance if possible.|
|Funeral instructions and preferences||It ensures you have the memorial service you want and prevents disagreements among your loved ones. It also specifies the disposition of your remains.||Make arrangements with a funeral home and pre-pay if possible. Discuss your plans with your family and set everything out in writing.|
Organizing Your End-of-Life Information
Designate someone you trust and give them instructions on accessing the documents above. You should have a home safe or safety deposit box to store copies of the documents. Also, make a list of the below, including where they can be found:
- your passport, driver’s license, health care card, and social insurance number
- your birth certificate, marriage license, and divorce papers, if any
- your bank account and investment account information
- the usernames and passwords for your online accounts
- anything you want to be destroyed after you pass away, such as personal diaries that you don’t want people to read
- Instructions about any digital assets you own, including what you have, where they’re stored, and how to access them
Keep your documents and checklist up to date in case there are changes. It’s a good idea to make an appointment to review them annually.
Talking about your death can be uncomfortable, but it will save your loved ones anxiety and family strife when they need peace and security the most. As you have these conversations, it will normalize talking about death, so it’s not as difficult the next time you have to discuss your plans with your family.
Life insurance is important to protect your family from financial strain after you pass away. If you don’t have life insurance and want to know how it can fit into your end-of-life planning, read about how life insurance works and the two main types of life insurance. Need more information? Read about the life insurance plans offered by Canada Protection Plan, one of Canada’s leading providers of No-Medical and Simplified-Issue Life Insurance. If you want to talk more about your options, contact one of our licensed representatives today. We’re ready to help you get organized!
Foresters and Canada Protection Plan (CPP), and their respective employees and life insurance representatives, do not provide, on Foresters or CPP’s behalf, financial, estate, legal or tax advice. The information given here is merely a summary of our understanding of current laws and regulations. Clients and prospective purchasers should consult their financial, estate, tax or legal advisor regarding their situation.
421597 CAN (02/23)