The one true certainty we have in this life is that it is unpredictable and anything, good, bad or otherwise, can happen. Additionally, “it” is not only defined by the passage of time. "It" can also be influenced by proactive planning or, on the flip side, lack of planning. Let's take a look at the "10 Tough Questions About Life Planning."

Being able to live your best life, in all stages of life, takes planning. And we're not just talking about planning for your golden retirement years, but also for your end-of-life needs and wishes, too.

We recently invited Brannon + Black, an elder law firm in Atlanta, to share their expertise with our community on the “10 Tough Questions About Life Planning”. They addressed key areas families, couples and individuals are most likely to be reluctant to discuss -- and they began to peel back the layers of these uncomfortable, but crucial, conversations.

Here are the 10 categories of questions they asked us to consider:

  1. Family Relationships: Am I doing all that I can to maintain strong and loving relationships in my family? 
  2. My Habits & Risk Factors:  Do I have any familial history or lifestyle factors that do (or might) impact my health for the worse that I need to address (or investigate)? 
  3. Guidance & Support: Do I have a trusted primary care physician who knows me, listens to me, and offers sage advice?  Do I see this physician at least once each year?
  4. End-of-Life Care Decisions: Have I discussed my wishes about end of life care with my family and others?  Are my wishes embodied in an Advanced Directive, Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment, or a Do Not Resuscitate Order?
  5. My Spending & Saving Habits: Am I enjoying the fruits of my labor now, but still saving enough to prepare for my long-term needs? 
  6. Trusted Advisors: Do I have both a skilled and trusted financial advisor and skilled and trusted attorney who can advise me (and members of my family, as appropriate)? 
  7. Insurance: (For those still working.) Do I have adequate life insurance and have I considered disability insurance if I can afford it?
  8. Planning for Incapacity: Have I discussed my wishes and needs in detail with my family or with others who will be asked to carry out my wishes in the event I am incapacitated?
  9. Wills/Trusts/Beneficiaries: Do I have a well-drafted Will and/or Trust that embodies my wishes for who will manage funds during my incapacity and how anything remaining will be distributed after my death? Are these documents up to date?
  10. Bucket List: What would you regret not doing if you died tomorrow? How does that inform how you live your life today?

Paul Black, of Brannon + Black, states that in his experience, “Clients who have these conversations and who address these issues are far less likely to have gaps in their planning or surprise outcomes.”

Proactively taking care of these items now is truly is the best gift you can give to your loved ones. This way they can be prepared to care for your needs when you can no longer speak for yourself, and they can honor your wishes when you have passed away.

So, how are you doing with these 10 questions? If you haven't talked about them yet with your family, I urge you to start talking and planning now.