Planning Ahead

Many of us find it so hard to look ahead and make end of life plans but it makes such a difference to those left behind if you can. It reduces stress and indecision at a very difficult time. And people often report how much better they feel when they have done it. They can just get on with living without a nagging anxiety about the future tugging at them.

What can you decide?

Who you want to hold your lasting powers of attorney

There is one for your finances and one for health and welfare.

Having these ready means people can act in your best interest if a time comes when you no longer feel able to do this on your own behalf or can no longer communicate your wishes.

Who gets what?

Remember this is not just about money.   Making a will can avoid a lot of unpleasantness and ensure the people you want to have something from you, get it.   A brooch that you always wore or your favourite trowel may not be worth much money but can have huge sentimental value to more than one person.  You can also give some things away before you die and enjoy the pleasure people get from these gifts.  Some people also write emotional wills. These are letters for people to receive or poems you want them to have that show you have thought of them.  And then of course, if you have it there is the bigger stuff like properties and investments which need organising to avoid a lot of disagreements after you die.

What about a death plan?

We have to be flexible about these just as we are about our birthing plans but it really helps to know what you hope for and lifts some of the weight of responsibility from the shoulders of your relatives or friends.

It covers things like where you would like to die, whether you want to be resuscitated in certain medical circumstances and can be very detailed about who you would like to have with you, music etc. 

An advance decision to refuse treatment is only concerned with medical decisions.  It must be discussed with and signed by your doctor.  Then they can log your wishes centrally.  In Oxfordshire we also need to complete the lilac form which is now done by your GP online and avoids CPR if you do not want this.

A Useful Guide

This was produced by an excellent voluntary organisation made up of doctors, nurses, church staff and members of the public called Finity. They were based in Buckinghamshire but are no longer active but produced this very useful free resource.

Download My End of Life Plans (PDF)

Do you want to be buried or cremated?  And where?

It really helps to make this decision on behalf of your family..  It is often a quite emotional choice and people have strong feelings either way.  Others make decisions on the basis of environmental factors (burial is the better choice if that is your priority).   

If you know where you want to be, tell them that too.  Again it can save a lot of heartsearching and avoids competing priorities coming into play after you have died if family are quite scattered.

What about the funeral?

If you have some ideas about this write them down.  If you know you want a particular kind of coffin, a special reading or piece of music make this known and make sure you also leave room for those left behind to think about what would help and comfort them.  Maybe you want to allocate some funds to cover the costs.

I have made my plans.  Now what?

When you have done all this make sure someone (ideally more than one) knows about it.  If possible, talk it through with them.  If they will not do this with you then talk it through with someone you trust and make sure they at least know where all your instructions are kept (somewhere really easy to find) and leave a copy with your lawyers if you have one, the management of your care home or your doctor if they will take them.  

"A huge thank you for yesterday.  We all agreed that it was the best funeral we had ever been to." C