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How do you get organized and create a plan that helps your family, when you pass away?

A California woman has organized a program that brings people together in a social gathering to discuss and consider their own death at some point in the future, according to NPR Weekend Edition in “One Woman Helps Others Make Sure End-of-Life Planning is ‘Good to Go’“.

Amy Pickhard hosts potluck dinners at her apartment in Los Angeles. Guests are asked to bring food and beverages that remind them of a loved one who has passed. They begin with introductions, which is followed by reviewing a document she calls the “Good to Go” Departure File that takes them through highly specific details of necessary decisions.

The topics covered range from where they want their property to go, to who should make decisions for them when they are incapacitated. These are not legal documents but a way to help clarify in a supportive setting what the participant’s wishes are.

However, some of the questions are thought provoking such as those she refers to as the “sonic will.” Do you want the television on while you are waiting for family members to gather at your bedside? What songs do you want to be played on your deathbed, or at your funeral?

Pickard learned the necessity for this kind of planning the hard way, when her mother died unexpectedly several years ago. Pickard had to become a detective to locate the will and figure out what to do with her mother’s remains and assets. It took two years to settle the estate and then she was faced with her grandmother’s death followed by her father’s death. The experiences turned her into an evangelist for advanced planning and she began hosting the parties.

Not everyone is comfortable with this type of upbeat approach. In some cases, people respond the way they do because they believe making a will and estate plan means they will die. Pickard’s response? “Writing this stuff down, isn’t going to make you die!”

Putting your estate plan in order, along with a letter to your loved ones expressing what you would like, is a great kindness to those you leave behind.

An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your specific circumstances.

Reference: NPR Weekend Edition Saturday (May 26, 2018) “One Woman Helps Others Make Sure End-of-Life Planning is ‘Good to Go’

For more information on elder law, asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.