The new year always brings new year’s resolutions. Many people make resolutions to get in better physical or financial shape. However, people often forget the new year is a great time to make sure your personal wishes and plan for your family after your passing are addressed. Additionally, the new year is an opportunity to bring attention to another family member that they may not have adequately addressed estate planning issues such as making a will.

Take the time this new year to discuss with your family your desires regarding nursing home care, your wishes regarding artificial life support and other health care related choices. Also, make a will or review your current will and estate planning documents, such as life insurance policies, to make sure they fulfill your wishes and are financially smart.

If you have difficulty discussing these topics with your family, use the new year and the topic of new years’ resolutions to break the ice or plant the idea for a more detailed discussion later.

For example, “Dad, as a part of my new year’s resolutions, I’m writing notes on what I want in my will and I wanted to know whether you were comfortable with handling my estate if I were to pass away before you?” Later in the discussion you could ask “Have you made a will, living will or healthcare power of attorney? I just ask because we’ve never discussed what you would want if you were unable to make health care choices for yourself. I’d like to know in case I’m the person who has to make those decisions on your behalf”.

This is an example of one of the many ways you could use new year’s resolutions as an excuse to begin discussing the topic of end-of-life planning. The key is to address end-of-life planning before it is needed. Often, those in need of planning wait until it may be too late, after they are already in the hospital or have fallen ill, when they could have easily addressed the need earlier.

A good way to deal with this, and all new year’s resolutions, is to make a goal or resolution you can measure. Instead of “I want to get into better shape” or “I resolve to make a will”, make the resolution more specific and measurable. For example: “I will lose five pounds by Easter”, “I resolve to call an attorney regarding a will by February 1st” or “I resolve to make a living will before my next birthday”. This way, you have a specific goal upon which you can take action, a deadline and a way to measure whether you were successful.

From all of us at Lowery, Lowery and Cherry, have a happy new year and best of luck on all your new year’s resolutions.

If you need assistance with or have questions about end-of-life or estate planning, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney or living wills, please call Josh at (615) 444-7222 or email him at jrobbins@lowerylaw.com.