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End of Life Care Planning: Choosing to Live Well

image of a family We plan for the best life possible. Yet, all too often in this planning, we put off thinking out our final chapter for living well with peace of mind and without crisis.

Consider this: Research shows that 70 percent of Americans would prefer to be at home with loved ones in their final days, yet only about 25 percent die at home. And, the most requested advice from legal aid is how to deal with end-of-life issues - amidst a family crisis.

If we can break this taboo, many people will be able to avoid dying alone, in pain and in unfamiliar institutional settings. Many families can avoid regrets, unresolved issues and being impoverished by end of life care.

To help you tackle this important planning for the best possible life, we offer a checklist and resource guide. This material is informational only and not intended as legal advice. If you have questions, please consult with your physician, lawyer or other appropriate person.


  • GATHER INFORMATION FOR DECISION-MAKING. Talk with your doctor, family, close friends and other trustworthy advisors about your health care wishes, questions and concerns.
  • PREPARE YOUR ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE. After learning your options and discussing your wishes, prepare an Advance Care Directive. Keep a personal copy in a safe and accessible place, while letting key people know of your intensions. Consider addressing Palliative Care/Pain Management and Hospice Care in your advance health care plan.
  • PREPARE AN ESTATE/FINANCIAL PLAN. By developing an Estate/Financial Plan , you can avoid surprises and help protect the long-term health of your assets. While difficult to predict future needs, it would be useful to learn what kind of financial assistance you may be able to receive under your health insurance plan, disability insurance plan and Medicare/Medicaid Benefits (Social Security Administration). Address in advance your wishes for the often-taboo subject of funeral arrangements. Information is available from the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • KEEP INFORMATION SAFE AND ACCESSIBLE. Your best plans will not be any good unless you and others can refer to them. Where to Find My Important Papers Worksheet is a useful tool.

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