When is the best time to start end of life planning?
It’s a common question and the truthful answer is from age 18, i.e. when you are an adult.
However, realistically, this is probably not going to happen – remember when you were 18?
It’s most likely you felt that ‘older’ was age 30, ‘ancient’ was your 55 year old grandparent, and death -well, it was so far off as to be non existent!
I’m being a bit facetious here, as you may have realised that death does indeed happen to the young as well as the old.
But when it comes to what age you should start end of life planning, it helps to think about what happens for the majority.
Hence when you get to anything over age 50, it’s a bit sobering to realise that you almost definitely have already lived longer than you have left to live.
That’s then a very good time to address how you would like to live the latter part of your life.
Is that EEE – Early Enough Education? Yes – anything at all is early enough, especially when you are in your later years, when it might be much too late to get any early enough education, let alone enough.
But fortunately before then, there are all kinds of situations so it is a good age to start end of life planning.
Here’s just four:
When you get married or enter into a civil partnership
This is the ideal time for a will to be made, and you might as well get your powers of attorney set up at this point too. Which doesn’t bear thinking about, does it, but it’s not as bad as what might happen if the state has to make a decision about who takes care of your children.
When you have a child
It is 100% essential that you have a will done at this point, if only to document who would look after your child should you and your partner die.
When you go on holiday
When flying was less common, it wasn’t unusual for people to think about what would happen if they crashed, and this was an incentive to get their will done, or take care of anything else that would help the family if the worst happened. Nowadays flying is much more usual, and less and less think of this.
But the very act of going away (particularly if it is for a long journey, or far away) is a good moment to at least start the process of thinking about what you want towards the end of your life. It will still need to be documented (which you could of course do on holiday!)
When you become part of a blended family
Particularly if your parent, or you, are with someone else who has children, some thought needs to be given not only to the legal side of things, but also to who would get what when you’re not around; who would know where to look for your end of life plans/organise the funeral/ensure your wishes regarding your body are taken care of. There’s lots more that constitutes a good end of life plan, but this would be a definite start.
So the age at which you start end of life planning is in many ways dependent on your own situation.
But basically, the sooner the better, as it’s always too soon – until it is sadly too late
And for more in-depth thinking about this, read my book Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating a Good End of Life Plan