Creating your own end of life plan is one of the most selfless things you can do for the people you love, says Lantern co-founder and CEO Liz Eddy. Plus, you likely won’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it. There are many things to consider when putting together your end of life plan (see a comprehensive checklist here) but here are 10 considerations to get you started:
Having a will doesn’t mean you're "done.” If you have a will, you’re on your way to completing an end of life plan, but you’re not done. At a minimum, be sure you have your advanced care directive and power of attorney in place. Beyond that, you’ll want to create a document that outlines things such as: your wishes for a funeral or memorial service, subscriptions you’ll need cancelled, where your passwords are stored, and so on.
If it’s not written down, it likely won’t happen. You might be certain you want your favorite music played, or the best burgers in town served, but if it’s not written down, your loved ones might not know or remember to do it. Often times, one of the greatest stressors when planning a memorial is not knowing what the person would’ve wanted. It’s ok to tell them.
You don’t have to use a funeral home. Funeral homes can be incredibly helpful after a death, but they can also be incredibly expensive. You might consider telling the people you leave behind to go through online cremation services like Solace or Tulip or utilizing a direct cremation option.
Traditional cremation or burial aren’t your only options. Tradition says you choose between these two options, but many new alternatives are surfacing that allow for a customized (and eco-friendly) send off. Here are a few to consider:
Stay amongst the trees. Check out Better Place Forests and Bios Urns to make a tree into a memorial. Return to the earth. Go back to your natural roots with a mushroom suit or return to soil with Recompose. Become a diamond. Eterneva uses ashes to create beautiful diamond jewelry; allowing your loved ones to keep you close, always.
You can elect someone to manage your digital legacy. Times have changed and our digital footprint is large enough to have it’s own executor. Consider choosing someone to manage your existing accounts and password manager. Accounts where a digital executor might come into play include: distribution of funds within Venmo and Paypal, distribution of iTunes library or Amazon movies, responding to emails, and closing your email account. Read more here to get started.
If you don’t have a digital vault for your password, get one. After we pass away, we leave behind a massive digital footprint--- social media, online banking, subscription services. Use a password manager, like 1Password, to store your login information so that a trusted friend or family member can memorialize your social accounts once you're gone. As a member of www.lantern.co you can get access to a free premium trial of 1Password and many other useful tools.
Make sure your credit cards aren’t all under one name. Most banks and credit card issuers permit only one person to be the credit card owner. If the owner of the account dies, any authorized users lose access, meaning someone who's recently been widowed could wind up without a working credit card. In order to avoid this issue, make sure that both you and your partner are each the card owner for at least one credit card. While you don't need to use your secondary card every day, do make sure to use it periodically as a way to establish credit -- you only build credit of your own when you are the card owner.
Tell your loved ones where to find things (and then don’t move them). You’ll want to ensure your documentation and most valued possession are stored in a safe and secure place. Just be sure it’s not so secure your executor can’t find it! Not sure what documents you need? Check out this article.
Record your history and legacy. Consider recording a video or a voice note telling stories from your past -- favorite recipes or things you hope for in the future. If you’re not comfortable being recorded you can also write them down. Your loved ones will be grateful for anything you leave them, but your stories and memories will always be most cherished.
You can do a lot of this work in advance. Nearly all of the planning and organization required after a death can be done in advance. From preparing documents, to memorial planning, to managing passwords and subscriptions, you can get prepared at any time. Check out a full pre-planning checklist here with Lantern, your guide to navigating life before and after death.
You can do all of this simply at www.lantern.co. Lantern provides a free, end of life planning roadmap that covers everything from wills and advanced directives to password storage and recording your history and legacy.