End-of-life directives can be included in estate planning

Texas residents may agree that death planning ranks high on any person’s list of difficult things to do. However, taking care of it as part of one’s estate planning may be the only way to have some degree of control over the end of one’s own life. Such planning may also save an individual’s loved ones from having to make difficult decisions after one’s death. Although it is not an easy discussion to have, one’s preferences in different situations that may occur should be discussed and recorded. Such records should be available to one’s next of kin when drafted, as it could be too late to perform many of the instructions therein if found after one’s death.

Individuals should approach such documents by anticipating every possible eventuality, including those that may arise in the event of disability. A proxy or responsible person should be chosen and be informed of all the person’s wishes. Personal wishes relating to potential situations like resuscitation and life support could be recorded in a living will. Organ donation may also be of interest, and the individual's choice of a funeral or cremation should be documented.

A person may also have specific wishes relating to his or her funeral and burial that should be recorded. Similarly, there may be a special urn or container in which a person would want his or her ashes to be kept. However, if the ashes are to be spread, those details can be recorded. There may be a special wish of which flowers the individual may want at the funeral, or a music choice and which photos to display. If this is not discussed, loved ones will be left to make those decisions at a time when they are probably traumatized.

Texas residents could record all of their wishes as part of their estate planning, as long as the documents are accessible even before death. Texas residents may take comfort in knowing that documents recording their final wishes may save their families from future conflicts. However, individuals may want to benefit from the knowledge and help of someone who could guide them through the legalities.

Source: The New York Times, "Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death", John F. Wasik, May 14, 2014

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