How to have that end of life conversation, create an advanced healthcare plan

How to have a conversation about end of life care and estate planning

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of us may be thinking more about that end of life conversation with our families – things like, where do the assets go, who makes the tough decisions? Well, experts said a lot goes into those arrangements and now is a good time to start planning.

“Because tomorrow is not promised to anyone,” said Ernie Burns, CEO of Burns Estate Planning & Wealth Advisors.

It’s a conversation no one looks forward to having but it’s an important one…. What happens to you and your estate when you die? Burns has gotten a handful more calls since the pandemic started.

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“This has made people think about their mortality,” he said.

People also think about their estate planning. Burns said a will is a good place to start.

“And you can write your own will in the state of Louisiana,” he said.

That’s called a holographic will, which is one that you write yourself. It doesn’t need to be witnessed or notarized. At the very least it should be handwritten by you in ink on loose-leaf piece of paper. The date should be spelled out and signed by you.

“Getting your affairs in order gives you real peace of mind for the future,” said Burns.

Additionally, Dawna Bailey, a social work counselor at Legacy Hospice, knows all about that peace of mind. She helps families talk about the end of life when times get tough.

“Oftentimes the patient is ready to discuss and the family is not,” said Bailey.

And she knows that uncomfortable conversation can really make a difference for your loved one’s peace of mind.

“When they all can come together and agree is a good thing. Especially for the patient,” said Bailey.

Another one of those things that must be decided is who makes the hard decisions. This would be the healthcare power of attorney. Dr. Mark Kantrow, a physician in palliative medicine at Our Lady of the Lake, said that person plays a big role.

“Who you know understands you, you’ve talked to about your priorities, and you feel like even in the face of adversity could make decisions,” said Kantrow.

He said, ultimately, one of the best ways to approach the conversation is to just think about what’s most important to you or your loved ones. Then, tailor your paperwork and decisions from there.

“Make your wishes known because you’re a father, a husband… because you’re a wife,” said Kantrow.

At the end of the day, these experts all agree, you want to help protect your loved ones when you are no longer around. You can begin your end of life registry program with the Louisiana Secretary of State by clicking here.

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