End-of-Life Checklist (to make it easier for your family)

Originally published April 18, 2018 and updated April 4, 2023.

This is a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Organize your documents and state your wishes in this free 17-page End-of-Life Checklist. Gathering and organizing all this information is an invaluable way to show your family how much you care.

older couple looking at paperwork and a calculator at a table.
Portrait of mature man and his wife making financial revision at home

There are many things I admire about my parents, but one of the most poignant is how organized they were in preparing for their passing decades before it occurred. Years ago, my parents organized all their personal information into an End-of-Life Checklist that contained everything I needed to know when they passed away.

This End-of-Life Checklist was in addition to their wills, living wills and other legal documents. The checklist was invaluable to me because it contained everything I needed to know in one document.

At the time that my parents passed, somewhat unexpectedly and within 6 months of each other, I was grieving hard and certainly not at my best. If I’d had to figure out where to find all my parents’ estate and personal information it would have been a daunting task. Thankfully, with my parents’ forethought in creating their preparing for death checklist, I knew exactly where to begin the complicated process of settling their estate. Get your copy of the printable End-of-Life Checklist and create your own tool for your family to use.

Death is not something most of like to think or talk about, let alone prepare for. But after my recent experience losing my parents, I can sincerely tell you that having an end-of-life checklist completed is a truly helpful gift that you can leave for your loved ones.

In addition to creating a will, a trust or any other legal documents, you should create and End-of-Life Checklist to help your loved ones know where to find everything they will need to settle your estate. The End-of-Life Checklist is a supplement to the legal documents you should have already created. 

Why end-of-life planning is important

End-of-life planning is a crucial process that everyone should undertake and is often overlooked or delayed due to the uncomfortable nature of the topic. It’s much easier to make the best choices and have the important conversations now rather than waiting until your final days.

Taking the time to plan for end-of-life is incredibly important for both you and your loved ones. By planning for the future, you can ensure that your wishes are met and that your loved ones are not left with the burden of making difficult decisions during an already stressful and emotional time.

End-of-life planning involves several important steps, such as:

  • Gathering pertinent information for all your bank accounts, financial affairs and legal documents
  • Creating a will or trust
  • Designating a power of attorney
  • Making decisions about medical treatment and end-of-life care
  • Sharing your wishes for funeral arrangements

These can be tough decisions and emotional decisions that can be difficult to make. However, they are crucial to ensuring that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are not left to guess about your desires.

Additionally, end-of-life planning can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. By taking control of your future and making your wishes known, you can alleviate the stress and uncertainty that often surrounds end-of-life care. You can also ensure that your loved ones are able to focus on spending time with you and providing emotional support, rather than making difficult decisions on your behalf.

Why you should use an End-of-Life Checklist

  • You’re wondering, “How do I get my affairs in order?”
    • This end-of-life planning checklist is a road map to help you get started and to record your personal choices and wishes.
  • When your loved ones lose you, they will be overwhelmed with grief. Knowing that you’ve provided one document with everything they need to know makes a difficult and painful time a bit easier.
  • Do you know what documents everyone should have?
    • It can be overwhelming knowing which documents and information you need to gather and this checklist can guide you through end-of-life decisions
  • No matter how many times you’ve explained your finances and where you keep your important documents, your loved ones will have a difficult time remembering in the midst of their grief.
  • Any confusion or questions that arise between different family members will immediately be set straight when they refer to your End-of-Life Checklist.
  • Thinking about your wishes, gathering information and getting everything down on paper now allows you to have the time to consider your wishes and to express them clearly.
  • Listing all assets and important personal information helps insure that nothing is missed or lost in the confusion and grief of your loss. 

End-of-Life Checklist

Allow for several hours to gather and compile the information. You may find it best to work on one page of the checklist each day until you complete it.

Take the time you need to thoroughly consider your desires and to hunt down all the information your family will need. This may involved time and effort on your part. I encourage you to invest that time and effort to help your loved ones in the future. It’s a gift that you will give them, a gift that will ease their minds at a time of grief.

older bearded man writing in notebook in front of laptop.

There is redundancy in where you list information in this End-of-Life Checklist. This is by design. When your family is grieving, they won’t be functioning as effectively as they usually do. Providing the same information in multiple locations can be helpful to them when they are operating through the fog of grief.

This Free End-of-Life Checklist Contains

This free 17-page checklist will help you gather important papers and make difficult decisions to to plan for basic end-of-life care. If you’d like a more detailed, comprehensive workbook, you’ll want to look at my 81-page comprehensive End-of-Life Binder.

Page 1 – Cover sheet

Page 2 – Personal Information

  • Your name, birthday and social security number
  • The location of key documents and items
    • Birth Certificate
    • Marriage License
    • Military Discharge Paperwork
    • Will, Power of Attorney, Medical Directives
    • ID Cards
    • Medical Insurance Cards
    • House and Car Keys
    • Burial Plot
    • And More

Use the Free Printable – Family Story Jewelry Tags to make sure that the history and family stories about special pieces of jewelry is maintained and passed along. 

As a former patient advocate, I know that it can be difficult to keep track of your medical information, especially in the middle of the situation. I’ve just learned about a great new resources, the Abridge app, it’s an easy way to record and keep track of your health history.

With the Abridge app you can:

  • Record your conversation with your doctor, so you can review it again later.
  • You can share it with family.
2 images of Abridge app on cell phone.

It makes it much easier to be a responsible patient and share accurate information with your loved ones and care givers.

Page 3 – Medicine & Equipment

  • All medicine and medical equipment used
  • Location of those items 

Page 4 & 5 – Documents Location

  • Bank Documents
  • Titles & Deeds
  • Credit Cards
  • Tax Returns
  • Trust Documents, Estate Planning Documents & Powers of Attorney
  • Mortgage & Loan
  • Personal Documents

Important documents to consider including:

  • Advanced Directive
  • Last Will
  • Living Trust
  • List of Assets
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney

Page 6 – Insurance

  • Type of Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Home & Other Insurance
  • Account Number & Contact for the Company
  • Location of the Policy 

Page 7  & 8 – Banking

  • Account
    • Savings
    • Checking
    • Certificate of Deposit
    • Safety Deposit Box
    • Loan
    • Credit Card
  • Contact
  • Account Number

Page 9 – Monthly Income

  • Income Source
  • When Received
  • How Received
  • Amount
  • Contact
  • Account Number

Page 10 – Monthly Expenses

  • Expense
  • When Pay
  • How Pay
  • Amount
  • Contact 
  • Account Number

Page 11 & 12 – Insurance

  • Insurance Type
    • Medical
    • Dental
    • Long-Term Disability
    • Life Insurance
    • Homeowners or Rental
    • Auto
    • Personal Property
    • Other
  • Contact
  • Account Number

Page 13 – Pensions & IRAs

  • Pensions
  • Retirement Accounts
    • 401(k)
    • 403(b)
    • Roth IRA
    • SEP & Others
  • Company & Contact
  • Account Number
  • Date of Payment
  • Document Location

Page 14 – Notes

  • Add any specific directions you want to make that is not already included in your will or other documentation.

Page 15 – 17 – Value of Estate Snapshot Worksheet

  • Provide an approximate value of all each and all assets on the date you complete the worksheet
    • This is a valuable worksheet no matter the size and value of your assets
    • There is no estate too small!
  • The Value of Estate Snapshot is a 3-page document that lists potential assets for you to consider and provides two pages for you to list your assets and value.
  • You can go into as much detail as you want or can simply list the larger value accounts and items
  • Recommend updating this sheet every year or every other year
  • Gives your loved ones an idea of where to start in settling your estate and what to expect

You may also want to consider adding to your End-of-Life Checklist a list of online passwords in a secure location for your loved ones to use to access and check accounts. Please leave this list in printed form (I was unable to read my father’s handwriting for many of the passwords) and in a secure location.

It would also be a good idea to add a list of professional contacts for resources you have used:

  • Financial advisors
  • Medical care
  • Assisted living facility
  • Your local probate court
  • Hospice care
  • Law firm or lawyer’s contact
  • Your favorite charitable organizations
  • In-home care provider
  • Funeral home
  • Cemetery

You can choose the free 17-page End-of-Life Checklist or the 81-page Comprehensive End-of-Life Binder to meet your specific needs.

The more comprehensive 81-page End-of-Life Checklist Binder includes worksheets to provide more complete and detailed information in the categories above. Additionally, worksheets allow you space to record your end-of-life wishes and details about:

  • Your health history, medical information, healthcare providers, and preferred medical professionals
  • Details on your financial matter, including sources of income and recurring expenses
  • List of passwords and subscriptions, including social media accounts, magazines and newspapers
  • A detailed worksheet for you to make decisions and express your final wishes for the funeral home, memorial service, and other important decisions
  • Details on others you care for, including a spouse, minor children, adult children and pets
  • Specifics on your financial assets, physical assets and entire estate
  • Plans for your business if you’re a small business owner
  • A place for you to list your family members, trusted friends, contacts and when you’d like them notified and their contact information

Even with the End-of-Life Checklist that my parents left for me, settling their estate was a time consuming task. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if my parents had not invested the time and energy in organizing their estate and paperwork for me. This estate checklist was truly invaluable to me. I have already created one for my children. I encourage you to take the time to do the same for your loved ones.  And be sure to keep your End-of-Life Checklist in a secure place, like a safe or safety deposit box since it contains sensitive information. 

Organize personal information in a In Case of Emergency Binder for you own personal use with this comprehensive binder from my friend, Corinne, at WondermomWannabe. 

More Ideas for the Loss of a Loved One:

    Grieving – Practical Tips for Getting Through Grief – The process & fog of grieving can be debilitating. These 10 practical tips for getting through it will help you navigate responsibilities & life.

    Purposeful Ideas to Honor Deceased Loved Ones – 25 Purposeful ideas to honor deceased loves ones. A purposeful act of kindness for each month of the year to remember your loved one and help your community.

    Songs about Losing a Loved One – 100 songs about losing a loved one. When you need to express the grief in your heart and soul. Songs in different genres that share different aspects of grieving, love and hope.

    End-of-life planning is an important aspect of life that should not be ignored. By taking the time to plan for the future, you can ensure that your wishes are met and that your loved ones are not left with the burden of making difficult decisions. Take the first step today organizing your personal information and wishes with this free End-of-Life checklist and start the conversation with your loved ones about your end-of-life wishes.

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