Hope is Not a Plan, But Planning Will Generate Hope

It’s here. Some call it the “silver tsunami” while others reference it as “the greying of America”. Nearly half of the “sandwich“ generation have a parent over age 65 and are raising young children or supporting grown children.

Alarmingly, thousands of critically important end-of-life and after death decisions are currently being made without the benefit of advanced planning. While “hope” is not a plan, planning realizes hope.

Have you ever considered all the decisions that will need to be made when someone, including yourself, dies?

Are you leaving it up to “let’s hope my spouse or kids will know what to do” or “let’s hope someone will find what they need” or “let’s hope they will remember my wishes”?

Death is inevitable. The topic of planning for death is a hard one to face and discuss with people you care about. It is difficult to think about all the things that you need to get done in order to “get your affairs in order”. But the result of not having a clear plan in the end is that those that you care about are left to only “hope” to do their best to piece together any conversations or verbal instructions that might have occurred in the past.

Unfortunately, relying on memories and hope alone tends to be problematic.

During my career in estates and trusts, I witnessed many chaotic family scenes at widows’ homes while helping search for vital information during an emotionally challenging time. I observed the heartache and enormous stress families endured as they navigated the decision making process and the many tasks that confronted them after the death of a loved one.

Several years ago, my mother died suddenly. We spent countless hours searching for documents, double checking facts, and gathering the personal details about her life so we could write an obituary. We did not know what her wishes were, so we relied on hoping we knew what she would have liked to have happen. We were left without a set of clear directions to make myriad decisions and necessary arrangements. We could only hope for the best.

Those experiences taught me that “winging it” is not a good plan and “hoping for the best” does not necessarily bring about the peaceful outcome that everyone is looking for when death happens. No one wants to die, but no one has ever escaped it. Planning ahead however brings peace of mind.

LastingMatters was launched to help any adult, at any age, prepare for what happens after death using a comprehensive and easy-to-use planning guide. The LastingMatters Organizer was created to prepare anyone for life’s biggest event by compiling, organizing, and documenting one’s wishes, intentions and important personal information all together in one location.

The LastingMatters Organizer is a straightforward guide that walks you through everything from what to do with your belongings to how you want your life celebrated. Below are easy to understand prompts you can use to help your loved ones be prepared to carry out your wishes:

• Who should be notified when you die?

• What kind of service would you like?

• Do you wish to be cremated or buried?

• What would you like to have included in your obituary?

• Where are your passwords listed?

• Who should take care of your pets?

• Where are your bank accounts?

• Which family traditions would you like to pass on?

• What happens to all of your “treasures”?

Whether your death is sudden or expected, your loved ones will be dealing with a lot of emotion in the period right after your passing. Unfortunately, this is a time when family and friends will need to take immediate and critical decisions.

Being hopeful means having the faith and confidence that someone will take care of what matters most to you. Planning ahead creates positive feelings for you and for those left behind wrapping up and honoring your life. Hope is achieved when everything turns out as you planned.

Making a clear plan for life’s greatest transition means that you care about your family and friends. The gift of information will save time, money, stress, and the family pressures often associated with death.

In the end, it’s better to be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best.

This article first appeared and was written for FrontBurnerMama Magazine.