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The Good Death

The Good Death

February 17, 2023

Death is not something we often discuss amongst ourselves, but it is inevitable and, as far as I know, cannot be avoided.


You can plan for it by putting your estate documents in order.  This would include your will and your powers of attorney (POA) for healthcare and financial matters.  Estate documents are the purview of an attorney.  Part of my financial planning process is to make sure you have them and that they are up-to-date.


Your will is the document that details who gets your “stuff”.  Your family with thank you if yours has been properly set up.  If you die without one (aka “intestate”), your family will be stuck with the hassle and cost of probating your intestate estate.


A quick warning:  If you tried to save money by drawing up your own will or downloading a template from the internet, your family might have an unpleasant surprise of finding out that your will isn’t valid.  At the very least, have your current will reviewed by an estate attorney.


The POA’s come into play when you are unable (incapacitated) to make your own health or financial decisions. You need to appoint someone you trust to act as your “agent” to make these decisions.


For healthcare, your agent would confer with your doctors to determine your course of treatment.  This is especially important for end of life care.


Your agent needs to understand what medical treatment you would or wouldn’t want.  How do you feel about life support? Donating your organs?  You should also have a conversation with your family about your end of life care and wishes.


Think about this for a minute:  You are prone in a hospital room, hooked up to a variety of  noisy machines.  Your prognosis isn’t good.  Your family has gathered around you. They are upset and fearful.  Now they collectively have to decide what to do about your care because you never took the time to set up your medical POA or tell them what you wanted.


Your family has no idea what to do.


Another estate document you might consider drawing up is a “living” will. This is similar to your POA for health decisions. A living will documents what medical treatment you'd like, how you wish to die and any additional details you want your family to carry out.  For instance, I do not want to die in the hospital.  I want to die in my bed, surrounded by my family and my dogs are allowed to be on the bed.  Afterwards, upon my death, I want to donate my organs.  Whatever is left will to be composted for gardening. (Human composting is legal in Washington State.)


Viking funerals are not legal, but you can be creative and leave an impactful memory for your family.


You only get to die once.  Make it a Good Death.