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Is Your End of Life Paperwork in Order?

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “The only certainties in life are death and taxes.” There’s another certainty – both of those are accompanied by paperwork…lots and lots of paperwork. Understandably, it can be uncomfortable to complete end-of-life paperwork, but it’s necessary and makes things easier for those you love. The more specific and complete you are when filling out these forms, the easier it will be for your loved ones to ensure your wishes are met.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)

A basic DNR form tells doctors not to perform life-saving procedures. This form is often used if someone is suffering from life-threatening illnesses that also impact the quality of life. Completing this form helps your family and medical staff know your wishes and removes stressful decisions from their hands.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

This is a more specific version of a DNR. It typically includes three or four levels of intervention that you can elect to accept or decline. Unlike a living will, a POLST form instructs your physician about what to do. A living will informs but does not instruct. In some states, such as Massachusetts, is called a MOLST. Depending on where you live, it may also be called a MOST, POST, or TPOPP. Whatever the name, the intention is the same – to instruct your doctors and medical staff which level(s) of treatment you’d like to receive.


Formally called a Last Will and Testament, this provides legal instructions about what should be done after your death. Most people associated this with your assets, but a will does more than that. You can also include funeral and burial instructions as well as create donations and trust funds with your assets. Some people also use their Last Will and Testament to leave final, personal messages for their loved ones.

None of this paperwork is comfortable to think about or to complete. Keeping it all in order and updating as necessary. For help keeping it all organized or connected with appropriate professionals, please contact us.

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