Practical Arrangements to Consider for Your Terminally Ill Loved One

By Craig Meadows 


Learning that a loved one has a terminal illness is heartbreaking. During such a time of emotional upheaval, legal and financial matters are likely far from your mind. Eventually, however, you’ll have to get your loved one’s affairs in order and make the necessary preparations to keep them comfortable as their illness progresses. Once you’ve had some time to process your loved one’s diagnosis, consider making the following arrangements.


End-of-Life Arrangements


Although conversations about death can be extremely difficult, be sure to talk to your loved one about their end-of-life arrangements. There are several decisions that need to be made when someone dies. Will they be buried or cremated? Should you hold a traditional funeral or a celebration of life? Where will you hold the memorial service? Where will your loved one be buried? These questions, and many more, are easier to answer while your loved one is alive.


It’s also critical to discuss your loved one’s ability to pay for their end-of-life arrangements. According to Parting, traditional funerals cost between $7,000 and $10,000. Your loved one may want to pay for their end-of-life arrangements in advance. Alternatively, they may rely on a life insurance or burial insurance payout to cover these expenses after they pass.


Burial insurance can be extremely valuable, helping families pay for final arrangements. Family members can use a burial insurance benefit to pay for their loved one’s headstone, urn, casket, funeral, memorial service, cremation, and more. Beneficiaries can also use the funds to pay off lingering medical bills or existing loans, like a mortgage. With burial insurance, your loved one won’t have to worry about putting a financial burden on you when they pass.


Advance Care Planning


As the illness progresses, your loved one may have a difficult time making certain decisions. Consider advance care planning as soon as possible. According to the National Institute on Aging, advance care planning involves discussing the decisions that may need to be made down the line and documenting your loved one’s preferences while they’re still able to make these decisions for themselves. An advance healthcare directive is a legal document that details these preferences. Often, an advance health directive will cover end-of-life care desires, the use of ventilators, artificial feeding, and resuscitation orders.


This is also a good time to talk about writing up a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal letter that authorizes someone else — typically a family member — to act on the patient’s behalf. If you are given power of attorney, you will be able to make financial and medical decisions for your loved one. That way, you can be sure their best interests are carried out.


Estate Planning


Your loved one will also need to get their estate in order to ensure their assets are distributed how they wish. If someone doesn't have a will in place when they pass away, state law will determine what happens with their assets — this isn’t what most people want. Have your loved one meet with a lawyer to draw up a will and choose an executor. Also, help your loved one update their beneficiary designations on their pension plan, retirement accounts, and life insurance since these are not determined by a will. Forgoing this task can be a costly mistake!


Approaching Difficult Conversations


You’ll face many tough conversations as you make arrangements for your loved one. These can be incredibly emotional for both parties. However, if you don’t have these important conversations, you will be forced to make several challenging decisions on your own. Head over to Dying Matters for advice on talking about death and dying with your loved one.


Navigating the tricky health, financial, and emotional aspects of a terminal illness is an obstacle course imbued with stress and uncertainty. However difficult, avoid putting off these decisions. Talking to your loved one and making the proper preparations will help you rest a little easier knowing you have their best wishes at heart.

Craig Meadows, Founder of Surviving Day One |