End of Life Decision-Making

By Jacqueline Ewalt, CPA

My father recently passed away after a short battle of cancer. Our lives had been focused on caring for our mother who has Alzheimer’s so my family, including my father, was not prepared for his illness or death. I have learned the importance of planning for emergencies and sudden death through this situation. While it’s not something you probably want to think about or deal with, I thought I’d share a some basic suggestions that could help make the situation perhaps a little easier for you and your family:

Organize important information

    • List key people with contact information that will need to be notified such as attorney, accountant, financial advisor, etc.
    • List account numbers, and beneficiary information for brokerage accounts, 401k plans, IRAs, bank accounts, life insurance policies, and other insurance policies such as home owner’s, disability, auto, medical, and long-term care
    • Include account numbers and signed agreements for all debt such as credit cards, auto loans, mortgage loans, and lines of credit
    • Details for car title(s) and registration(s)
    • Any and all real estate owned and location of property deeds
    • Information about all businesses owned and include type of business, partners, and shareholders, etc.
    • Most up-to-date personal will with an original signature
    • Location of safety deposit box and key
    • Use a password manager that you can share with your significant other or adult children.

Involve your adult children

    • Go through the organized important information with your adult children
    • Let your family know your preferences for your funeral and burial
    • Discuss who should be your power of attorney and executor of your estate
    • Have a conversation regarding exit strategies/succession planning of any businesses you are involved in and keep the plan up-to-date

End of life decision-making is a subject most individuals and families want to avoid while enjoying life but being prepared and having annual conversation will save family members added stress during an already difficult time. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns about starting a tough conversation or ensuring you are organized and prepared.

Jacqueline Ewalt, CPA | Senior Accountant