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Decisions related to aging and the end of life


A person planning for aging and end of life must make a set of important decisions about medical, financial, and legal matters. This article lists the basic decisions that a person needs to make about their finances, estate, medical treatment, and their remains.

Decisions about finances and the estate

A person planning for aging and end of life has a set of important and, oftentimes, difficult decisions to make. These include decisions about financial matters and their estate. 

  • What assets (money and belongings) do I have, and how much are they worth?
  • What money do I owe (debts)?
  • What people or organizations do I want to give my assets to after I die?
  • If there are debts to pay after I die, which assets do I want used to pay for those debts, and which ones do I not want used?
  • Who do I want looking after my assets and carrying out financial transactions for me if I can no longer do these things myself?
  • Who do I want to handle my estate and make sure my wishes are carried out after I die?

Decisions about medical treatment and remains

In addition to financial decisions, a person must also make decisions related to medical treatment and how they would like their remains handled after they die. The list included here contains only the most common decisions to be made in this area. There are many others that might apply to a loved one’s situation, such as whether they will accept blood transfusions and whether they want to donate their organs. The individual can discuss these topics with their caregivers and estate planner.

  • What actions do I want doctors to take (or not take) if I stop breathing, my heart stops beating, or I am in a coma? 
  • What actions do I want caregivers and doctors to take if I am in pain or serious distress?
  • Who should make medical decisions on my behalf if I can no longer do so for myself?
  • What do I want to happen to my remains after I die?

Related information

Advance directives

Creating legal documents

Durable power of attorney

Living wills

Medical power of attorney

Overview of estate plans

Overview of trusts

Will and testament

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