One of the biggest things that keeps people from creating an estate plan is a fear of death and an aversion to discussing mortality.

Talking about death isn’t easy for a lot of people, which might explain why only 44% of Americans have created a Last Will. However, the discourse around memorial or funeral services in recent years is changing with 46% of Americans over the age of 40 having discussed memorialization and funeral wishes with their families and 69% of Americans over 40 expressing a desire to pre-plan their own services.

While it is important to specify your medical wishes with a Health Care Directive, appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf with a Power of Attorney, and divide your assets with a Last Will and Testament, an End-of-Life plan is a great way to ease yourself into estate planning.

In this post, we’ll discuss what an End-of-Life Plan is, why you should make one, and how it differs from a Last Will and Testament.

What is an End-of-Life Plan?

An End-of-Life Plan is a document that can help you round out your estate plan by addressing things that a Last Will and Health Care Directive don’t.

An End-of-Life Plan allows you to:

  • Appoint someone to fulfill the wishes outlined in your plan
  • Express if you’d like an obituary or death notice, including which details you’d like it to comprise and where you’d like the notices published
  • Make known your wishes for burial or cremation and what you’d like done with your remains
  • Communicate what kind of memorial service you’d like (if any) to commemorate your life
  • Indicate how you’d like your funeral expenses paid (e.g. with funds you’ve set aside or from your estate)

You can also choose to write meaningful final thoughts to your family and loved ones (which can be general or for specific people) in hopes of offering some comfort for them after you’ve passed on.

Although an End-of-Life Plan is not a legal document, it helps to lay out your final thoughts in a personal and easy-to-understand way, which is important because your loved ones will likely be using it to navigate the difficult period after you have passed away.

Last Will vs. End-of-Life Plan

If you already have a Last Will, you may ask if you even need a document like an End-of-Life Plan. The answer is yes. A common misconception about a Last Will and Testament is that it includes your wishes for how you want to be laid to rest.

Although some people include their wishes for funeral arrangements in their Last Will, it’s not recommended. Including them doesn’t affect the validity of your Will, but it’s not ideal to have your preferences for memorial services in a document that people don’t tend to read until after your funeral.

Even if your appointee does read your Last Will before they plan your funeral, it’s more effective to provide your appointee with a comprehensive document devoted solely to your end-of-life wishes. The End-of-Life Plan is easy to follow and doesn’t require any deciphering because it’s written in plain language and allows you to include more specific instructions for the person or people planning your memorial.

Cover All Your Bases in Your Estate Plan

We created the End-of-Life Plan to allow our users to address things that their other estate planning documents wouldn’t, such as their obituary details, funeral wishes, memorial specifics, and so on. If you have particular desires for how you want your life to be celebrated and remembered, you should be able to express those desires in a concrete way like with a written document.

Just make sure once you’ve created your planning document, you let your appointee know where they can find it. You may even want to go over the End-of-Life Plan in person with your appointee so you can be sure they understand everything and they can have an opportunity to ask questions if they need to.

The End-of-Life plan can offer peace of mind for you because your memorial wishes will be written out for your loved ones to follow, and your loved ones can also be relieved of some of the stress of funeral planning because you’ll have already made major decisions for your memorial.

Have you done any pre-planning for your own memorial service?

Posted by Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight is a writer in Edmonton, Alberta. His nonfiction has appeared in Spinal Columns, The Bolo Tie Collective Anthology: Volume I, and filling Station. When he's not writing, he's sleeping.