How to Create an End of Life Plan

How to Create an End of Life Plan

There is more to an end-of-life plan than having a will and a power of attorney. There are also practical aspects to consider in connection with end-of-life planning.

Think the Unthinkable

No one wants to think about death or imagine life without their better half. But if you were no longer around, what kind of mess would you leave behind? In a time of incredible loss for your significant other, would your lack of planning make them scramble just to keep a roof over their head?

We're not just talking about life insurance, although that is an important element. We're talking about access to your retirement accounts, when and where the mortgage gets paid, and other such practical matters.

With a death certificate and enough tenacity, most anything can be sorted out. But if there was a better way, wouldn't you want that for your person? That door swings both ways; what's good for the goose is good for the gander. 


The fundamentals in terms of end-of-life planning are a will, a medical power of attorney, and life insurance. A will specifies your wishes with regard to who gets what after you're gone. A medical power of attorney, also known as a durable power of attorney for health care, specifies who may make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.

You can hire an attorney to create these documents, which is the most expensive route. For less money you can create the documents online with any number of fill-in-the-blank legal services. Or, you can do it for free with a little time and research. Go online and search for examples of wills and power of attorney documents and you will find more than enough to cobble something together. If you do it right and have the documents notarized, they're perfectly legal.

If you are the primary breadwinner, you need to have enough life insurance to provide for your family. Even if you are not the primary breadwinner, having enough life insurance for a memorial service is a nice touch.

Beyond Fundamentals

What is needed is a list of everything you know that your spouse or partner does not. A good place to start is all of your logon IDs and passwords and corresponding account numbers. If you know how to use spreadsheets, this is a good application. 

Your list should include your bank account, mortgage provider, life insurance, auto loan, home & auto insurance, credit cards, retirement accounts, online broker, streaming/satellite/cable service, electric/water/sewer utilities, cell phone service, internet service, cell phone password, email password, computer password, and any subscriptions or memberships you may have. Access to that information will help your significant other maintain the accounts that are needed and close those that are not. If you need to get something from your spouse or partner, it doesn't belong on your list, it belongs on theirs.

Your list can include the phone numbers and email addresses of your family members and account information for your social media. Those avenues would be helpful for sharing what has transpired as well as any plans for a memorial service.

Your list needs to be updated at least once a year. An even better approach is to make your list dual purpose – use it on a regular basis to keep track of your passwords. That way it will always be up to date.


As you read that list you probably thought about the mayhem it would cause if it fell into the wrong hands. The issue then becomes, where to store it?

You could print it out and tack it to the wall, but that would make it accessible to everyone who enters your home. Maintenance workers, pest control, your children's friends – they would all have access to your most sensitive information.

You could put it in a lockbox or a firesafe, but that signals something important is inside. If a burglar breaks in, they could take it back to their hidey-hole and crack it open. Anything can be opened with enough force and the right tools. 

You could hide it, but what if both you and your significant other check out at the same time? In that case, wouldn't you want your adult children to have access to the list? It would make their lives easier in settling your estate. So now you need to tell one or more of your adult children where the list is hidden. 

What if they make a note of it and it falls into the wrong hands? It would draw crooks to your door like a magnet. You have no control over that information once it leaves your hands. Or, what if the event that brings about you and your significant other's unfortunate demise is a house fire? There goes your list.

You could upload the list to the cloud, but do you really trust it? It seems like every day another company is being hacked. Plus, you still have the issue of sensitive information beyond your control: now it's a note with the cloud location and password.

At last we arrive at a solution. The best way to handle this is to store the list in a safe deposit box. You can get a safe deposit box at your bank or credit union for as little as $20 per year. 

A safe deposit box makes a great place to store other important items such as your will and power of attorney and anything you might have stored at home in a firesafe. You can set it up so it's accessible to your adult children in the event of your death. Now you can tell them all about it because even if the information does fall into the wrong hands, only you and your designees have access to it. Banks are pretty white-knuckled about those sorts of things.


This is a topic no one likes to think about. The fact is, life is a terminal condition. It's a bit less depressing if you get this out of the way while you are still relatively young rather than waiting until the bitter end. Someday your loved ones will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The Eggstack Blog will never post an article influenced by an outside company or advertiser. There are no external affiliate links or advertisers on the Eggstack Blog. Our mission is to help you overcome uncertainty about retirement planning and inspire confidence in your financial future.
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