ABA Writes Guide to End-of-Life Planning

Bar Association's book intended to ease burden on families of deceased

A robust end-of-life plan can alleviate the often daunting difficulties many families face when someone dies.

The American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division released a book last week intended to help attorneys, their clients and individuals interested in organizing their lives with these complicated matters.

The ABA Checklist for Family Heirs: A Guide to Family History, Financial Plans and Final Wishes comprises 10 chapters examining vital information that will help in making informed decisions today and ensuring that wishes will be known and carried out.

“Somebody is going to have to organize your affairs, and you can do it yourself or leave a mess for your family,” Sally Balch Hurme, the book’s author, said in a statement. “I know there are lots of people who don’t know where to start in getting their stuff organized.”

Hurme is a lawyer and a project advisor with the AARP Health Education team. According to the statement, she has advocated on a wide range of issues during her tenure at AARP, including consumer fraud, financial exploitation, elder abuse, surrogate decision making, advance care planning, predatory mortgage lending, health care fraud and financial security.

The book is assembled into three sections. The first is used to record personal history. The second could be used to organize banking accounts, real estate, investments, debts and wills. The final section helps to prepare advance directives, to address incapacitation and end-of-life care.

Each chapter has a checklist to help users gather and keep up-to-date information for crucial tasks, including:

  • Cataloging assets
  • Planning final wishes and funeral arrangements
  • Identifying items to destroy
  • Drafting letters to family and friends.

The book includes a CD with the checklists to keep key information readily accessible.

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