March 2024 Challenge: It’s Time to Be Prepared

Let’s be real. If an unexpected medical crisis left you in the hospital for a long period of time or you suddenly passed away in your sleep, it’s unlikely that you’d want your loved ones scrambling to figure out what to do next.

And yet – that’s exactly what will happen to over 67% of American adults who have not put the proper planning in place ahead of time.

This month, I want to challenge you to prepare for the unexpected. For the medical diagnosis that comes out of nowhere, for the financial responsibilities that a family member or loved one will have to take on, and for the guardianship of your children and/or pets.

It might seem like tedious work, but I promise you, if you put the time in now it’ll be worth it for the peace of mind later on.

March 2024 Challenge: It’s Time to Be Prepared for End-of-Life Situations

You can complete these steps all at once or you can spread them out and complete them over the course of the month. Either way, you’ll end this month with a feeling of accomplishment and the immense thankfulness of those you’ll eventually leave behind.

Step #1: Get Clear About Your Wishes

We had a good friend of ours die this past month. He’d been sick for awhile, but one of the stress points for his family was not quite understanding what his wishes were for care at the very end of his life. As a society I don’t think we really like to focus on what it might be like during our last days on earth, but it’s important to convey your wishes to those around you.

Of course, we all want to go quickly in our sleep, but just in case that doesn’t happen, you might want to consider some of the following:

  • What medical treatments would you want if you couldn’t speak for yourself?
  • Are there any cultural or spiritual elements you want respected during your end-of-life care?
  • Who will make medical decisions for you if you can’t?
  • Would you like to try any non-traditional treatments?
  • What comfort measures or pain relief methods would you prefer?
  • What about organ or other forms of donation?
  • Who do you want involved in your care during your final days?
  • If there’s a choice, do you want that care to take place at home or in a medical facility?
  • What are your wishes for your funeral or memorial?

Take the time to really think these things through. It might be helpful to write them out on paper, but make sure to share them with at least one other person who you expect to be included in the final stages of your life.

Remember, the more you share now, the less guesswork there will be for someone else in the future.

Step 2: Create Your Estate Plan

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “estate”, I often believe that because I don’t own a mansion, yacht, or have millions in investments, that an estate plan doesn’t apply to me.

Wrong. Each and every person should have an estate plan in place.

Put simply, an estate plan is just a set of legal documents with instructions outlining how your belongings, property, and responsibilities will be managed or distributed upon your death or inability to care for yourself.

So, if you don’t already have an estate plan in place, this is the time to create one.

Estate Plan Documents

The following are what I would consider to be must-haves, but as always, make sure you are accommodating for your own specific situation and consult an attorney, as necessary.

  • Will: A legal document that says who gets your stuff when you die. It can also dictate who takes care of your kids and even what you want to have happen for your funeral.
  • Power of Attorney: This is a document that lets someone else (a family member, close friend, attorney, etc.) make financial and legal choices for you if you can’t because you’re sick or hurt.
  • Healthcare Directive or Living Will: This document outlines your personal preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care so that your medical team, family, and friends are made aware of your wishes and do not have to make those incredibly hard decisions themselves. You’ll have done the job ahead of time.
  • Guardianship Designations: You’ll want to clearly outline who will assume legal responsibility for minor children and pets in the event of your death or incapacity. While you may have one person or couple in mind, make sure you have three to four options listed. This will cover your children’s needs should your first (and/or second) choice become unavailable.

The final thing you might consider is beneficiary designations, such as who you will benefit from your retirement account, life insurance policy, etc. These are designations that are typically made when you open the account, but it’s always good to check to make sure you have completed that step and/or make adjustments as needed.

The Process of Creating an Estate Plan

I know, I know…this all sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. In fact, there are a couple of options to help you get started.

Option 1: Choose a family law attorney to help you walk through all of this. Not only will they be familiar with estate laws in your state, but they may be able to offer additional recommendations based on what they know about your preferences.

  • A free online will maker. It’s on the simple side of things, but it gets the job done.
  • For a minimal fee, you can create an estate plan with ease for both you and your spouse.

Note: If you choose to create your estate plan online, you will be responsible for having the documents notarized AND filing them with the courts before they are official. So, keep that in mind as you choose the best option for you.

Share Your Estate Plan

There’s a lot of discussion about whether to share your wishes and estate plan, but I have to say that I believe the more people you are willing to share it with, the better. Not only does it take the pressure off of one person (like your spouse or a child), but it’ll be more likely that your desires will be carried out should you not be able to do so yourself.

A few people to consider sharing with:

  • Immediate family members
  • Potential guardian(s) for minor children or pets
  • Medical professionals and facilities you frequent
  • Power of attorney designee(s)

…and anyone else who will be responsible for helping to carry out your final wishes.

Additional Resources:

Take the Time to Be Prepared for End-of-Life Situations

By expressing your wishes ahead of time and being prepared for end-of-life situations, your loved ones will be able to celebrate your life and grieve your absence without unnecessary stress. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s an amazing final gift to give.

So, if you haven’t walked through this process yet, now’s the time! Let’s get this challenge underway!

Cheering you on!


P.S. I’d love to hear how it’s going – tag me on Instagram @lemonblessings and let me know!