Thinking Ahead

Week 6: Letting Them Know

Congratulations! You’ve Thought Ahead! This is the part where most people pack up all their hard work into a little box and never look at it again. However, that’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you’ve preplanned and paid for every part of your plan, everything can unravel if you don’t tell your loved ones about it.

We’ve even seen people purchase plans in advance, and then at the time of need their loved ones contact another funeral home because they had no idea other plans were already made! Your plans may be foolproof, but you need to make sure the people carrying it out know what to do.

Talk About It

Once again, you may be faced with people who don’t want to talk about end-of-life planning or people who don’t approve of your plans. Reaffirm that these are your wishes and that carrying them out is exactly how you wish to be honored.

Day 36: Professionals

Now that you’ve finalized your plans, it’s a good time to check in with certain professionals, especially if you have more questions for any of them. For example, make sure your insurance agent has helped you get a funeral insurance policy that fits with your remembrance event plans. You may have to make more appointments with these people, but if you feel there is anything your team needs to know, it’s worth it to let them know.

  • Contact any professionals you think you need to clarify your plans.

Day 37: Immediate Family

Your immediate family will most likely be the first to contact authorities and make decisions at the time of need, so it’s vital that they know exactly what your wishes are. Spouses, children, and next of kin are critical in making sure your first decisions are carried out as planned.

Keep in mind that next of kin and your power of attorney are two different designations and may not be the same person. Next of kin is determined by the local laws and is most likely a spouse or child. Power of attorney is someone of your choice, but it only lasts as long as you are alive. Once you pass away, the next of kin needs to be present for decision-making.

However, now is a good time to let your power of attorney and your health care proxy know your full plans, as well. They will only be in effect while you are still alive, but they should know your wishes for how you want your money to be spent and organized and how you want your end-of-life care to be.

Since these conversations can be emotional and lengthy, we suggest that you sit down with your loved ones and talk about your plans thoroughly in person, if possible. Make sure they know where your Planning Box is and what is in it.

  • Inform immediate family of your plans.
  • Inform your power of attorney of your plans.
  • Inform your health care proxy of your plans.

Day 38: Helpers

If you’ve been talking to your loved ones during this process (and we hope you have been), there may be some people who you’ve talked briefly with about certain parts of your plan. While that’s wonderful, sometimes these loved ones can be misinformed because they only have heard bits and pieces of your plan.

To make sure they have a good idea of what you want, send a brief email to siblings, nieces, nephews, and close friends so they have a good idea of what you’re planning. They don’t need to know the ins and outs of everything (and you shouldn’t send sensitive information over email anyway), but they should know whether you would like cremation or burial, what kind of remembrance event you’d like, who to contact in an emergency, etc.

  • Write an email giving a general outline of what you have Thought Ahead about
  • Draft a list of the people you feel most comfortable sending this email to
  • Send this email to close friends and family who you feel should know your basic plans.

Day 39: Print Your Plan

When you do pass away, it may be the case that the people who are there at the time of need don’t know the details of your planning. For example, nursing staff may not know whether you are an organ donor or who to contact in case a medical decision needs to be made on your behalf.

To combat this, print the following template and put it in an easily visible location. It doesn’t have to be on your fridge, but it should be in a place that is very easy to find. If you are in a hospital or nursing home, you may want to place this somewhere by your bedside, if you are comfortable with it.

  • Complete the template here: My Thinking Ahead Plan
  • Print it out.
  • Place your plan somewhere that’s easy to find.

Day 40: Difficult Loved Ones

There are some people who you may not have included in your conversations about your plans, but you may still want them to know what those plans are. You know what we mean – the people you know you should’ve emailed on Day 38 but you haven’t spoken to in years or you know they’ll disagree with you on anything you say.

If you’re worried that any of these people will try to sway your opinion (for example, controlling relatives) – stand firm. These are your plans, and you have put considerable thought into what you really want. None of these people should be in charge of anything regarding your care, but we have seen cases where misinformed loved ones disregard and override the opinions of those closest to the one who had passed away.

This batch of emails is mainly intended to thwart that potential infighting among loved ones who may not be very close to each other. You can use the email ideas from Day 38 or you can simply indicate who will be making decisions on your behalf.

  • Write an appropriate email for any other loved ones you wish to communicate your plans to
  • Draft a list of people to send this email to
  • Send the email

Day 41: Share Your Plan

This is completely optional, but it’s a great way to get the word out to friends and family whose contact information you may not have. Besides, the more people who know your plan, the more likely it is to be carried out correctly.

Choosing to Think Ahead is a brave choice, and we think that getting your affairs in order is an accomplishment worth sharing. Let everyone know you’ve Thought Ahead by sharing the template below on Facebook! It’s also a great way to let relatives who don’t often check their emails know you have plans.

  • Fill in the blanks of the template here, or create your own post! “My name is ________ and I am proud that I’ve completed Cremation Society of Pennsylvania’s Thinking Ahead series and am confident that all of my final affairs are in order! For more information on how you can take control of your final arrangements, sign up for Cremation Society of Pennsylvania’s free email series: Thinking Ahead!”
  • Post it to your social media profiles and spread the word about your plans.

Day 42: Update Your Plan

You’ve done an excellent job over the past six weeks of ensuring that your wishes for how you are remembered are known and honored. However, you likely have many years before you’ll need any of these plans, so it’s important that you consider how your plans may change over time. For example, if you purchase a new house or sell your current one, you may need to change some things in your will.

We can help by emailing you a yearly reminder to update your information. Simply sign up below for our “Planniversary” emails, and you’ll receive one email each year on the date of your choosing.

No matter who you chose to plan your future with, we are happy we helped you Think Ahead.

  • Choose one day during the year. It can be today, it can be your birthday, or it can be any ordinary day. Just make sure you’ll remember it.
  • Mark the day on a calendar of your choosing.
  • Spend this day each year looking over your plans and ensuring that everything is up to date.
  • Let your power of attorney and health care proxy know about this day in case they need to update these documents for you.
  • If it would help you, we would be happy to send you a reminder email once a year through our “Planniversary” emails. Just click here to sign up.