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The Questions You Need to Ask About End-of-Life Planning

Updated: Mar 20, 2023



Sarah Kessler

Our guest blog today features Sarah Kessler, a writer at JoinCake.com, an end-of-life planning website with free resources and information on how to estate plan and honor loved ones’ final wishes.

Part of holistic hospice care is helping patients and families understand and put together end-of-life plans. And that can be easier said than done, especially if the person is elderly and doesn’t have comprehensive end-of-life plans in place, or if they and their family have a lot of questions about the process.


If you work in hospice care, it’s a good idea to have quick answers ready for the most common end-of-life planning questions. And if you or your loved one are going into hospice or palliative care, it’s important to know the answers to those questions, too.

With that said, here are the most common questions about end-of-life planning.

  1. Why is end-of-life planning important?

End-of-life planning is important because it protects you and your family before and after the end of your life. End-of-life plans not only help ensure that your estate is managed the way you want it to be, but also that you receive the type of care you want at the end of life. It helps ensure that you do not receive any kinds of care that you’d rather not receive, too.

End-of-life planning also takes a huge weight off of your family, since they’ll already know exactly what your wishes are if something does happen to you.

  1. Who should have end-of-life plans in place? 

Many people think that end-of-life planning just doesn’t apply to them. They might be healthy right now, so they believe they won’t need end-of-life plans anytime soon. Another reason someone might not believe they need end-of-life plans is if they don’t have a large estate.

However, nearly everyone can benefit from creating end-of-life plans and keeping those plans updated. Old or young, healthy or terminally ill, there is no harm in preparing end-of-life plans, and it’s always best to be safe, rather than sorry.

  1. When should you prepare end-of-life plans?

You should prepare end-of-life plans, typically, as soon as you feel ready.

If you’re not particular about the kind of care you receive if you become incapacitated, and you don’t have a large estate, you might feel like it’s all right to put off end-of-life planning. After all, it does take a time investment and some conversations with your family members.

But taking the time to prepare at least some of the most important end-of-life documents will take a weight off of your (and your family’s) shoulders, and make life easier later on.

With that said, there are some life events that make end-of-life planning even more essential. You should strongly consider creating or updating your end-of-life plans when you:

  1. Start a new career or get promoted in your career

  2. Buy a home or make another large purchase

  3. Get married or divorced

  4. Have a child

  5. Take out a loan or take on debt

  6. What are the most essential end-of-life planning documents?

The most important end-of-life documents are:

  1. Advance directive or living will

  2. Healthcare proxy

  3. Power of attorney

  4. Will and testament

  5. Life insurance and health insurance policies

  6. What happens if you don’t have end-of-life plans in place? 

If you don’t have end-of-life plans in place, and you become incapacitated or pass away, several things can happen. Here are some examples:

  1. Your healthcare team won’t know what kind of life-saving treatments you want or do not want. This includes CPR and other “extraordinary measures.”

  2. Your family and the funeral director won’t know what kind of funeral, burial, and cremation preferences you have.

  3. Your assets and belongings (your estate) may not go to the people or organizations you want it to.

  4. Your family will need to spend more time sorting out your documents and executing your estate.

  5. How should you prepare end-of-life plans? 

For some end-of-life documents, like your advance directive and healthcare proxy, you can simply work with your healthcare or hospice team. They’ll help walk you through the process of getting those documents filled out and on file.

Other documents will require a little more leg work. For example, to make sure you have copies of your life insurance policy, if you don’t have them already, you’ll need to contact your life insurance agency.

To prepare a legal will and testament, you can work with an attorney or put together a will online. After you create your will, all you’ll need to do is make it legally binding according to your state’s laws. Usually, this means signing the printed document in front of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of your will.

End-of-Life Planning

Planning for the end of life can be complicated and, at times, overwhelming. But it’s an important step to take, whether you’re already in hospice care or you just want your wishes known in case something happens.

Cake’s end-of-life planning checklist can help take some of the guesswork out of the process and guide you towards what to do next.

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