Other Considerations

Helping You Remember, Honor, Celebrate & Heal Since 1894

There are many things to address in preparing for life's final season...not just the funeral arrangements. Though it can be a burden to address these things, not addressing them can leave an even greater burden for your family.

As with funeral arrangements, proper planning in all other areas also involves making decisions, preparing legal documentation, and communicating your wishes to others. The sections below discuss different tools available to you as you make strides to properly prepare.




Power of Attorney for Health Care

A Power of Attorney is a document that gives another person legal authority to act on your behalf. If you create such a document, you are called the principal, and the person to whom you give this authority is called your attorney-in-fact or agent. A Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document wherein you name trusted family members or friends to take charge of your medical care in the event you become incapacitated and can't remain in charge. A "Durable" Power of Attorney for Healthcare extends the power beyond death and provides authority to control the final disposition of the principal. (Please see Advance Health Care Directive below).

Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document in which you state your wishes about certain kinds of medical treatments and life-prolonging procedures. The document takes effect if you can't communicate your own healthcare decisions. (Please see Advance Health Care Directive below).

Advance Health Care Directive

An Advance Health Care Directive is now the legally recognized and preferred format for making your health care wishes known. This document essentially combines and expounds upon the benefits of the Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will. By completing an Advance Health Care Directive, California law allows you to do either or both of the following:

  • You may appoint another person to be your health care "agent." This person (who may also be known as your "attorney-in-fact") will have legal authority to make decisions about your medical care if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself.
  • You may write down all your health care wishes. Unlike a living will, you can state your desires about your health care in any situation in which you are unable to make your own decisions, not just when you are in a coma or are terminally ill.

Selecting a Health Care Agent/Attorney-in Fact

When choosing someone to act as your agent in health care matters, choose the best person you can communicate with and who:

  • Will be available when needed.
  • Will be able to ask questions and get good answers from medical professionals.
  • Will make the medical care decisions that you would make (whether or not they agree with you)
  • Will be able to "stand up" for you, be your advocate, and deal with others who disagree with what you want.

This person may be a family member, friend or a professional such as an attorney.

Communicating Your Wishes

The person or persons you name as your health care agent(s) need(s) to know what you want and care about in order to know what to do for you. You should seriously think about and communicate what you want, and what's important to you. You can do this by just talking, or by writing your thoughts down in your Advance Health Care Directive or in another document. Our family service counselors can also obtain a booklet for you that will help you record your wishes in an organized fashion.

To request a copy of the "Your Way" guide, please contact us at (562) 698-0304.





Power of Attorney for Financial Matters (General Power of Attorney)

A General Power of Attorney typically refers to one over assets and financial matters. It is a separate legal document wherein you can name who will take charge of your financial affairs. It may be written to become effective immediately or upon a specified event, such as incapacitation. With this document, you can authorize your agent to manage your property, take charge of your asset accounts, pay your bills, and make personal care decisions regarding your living arrangements. The authority you give to your agent may be as broad or restricted as you choose.

Selecting a Power of Attorney/Attorney-in Fact

When choosing someone to act as your agent in financial matters, choose the best person you can communicate with and who:

  • Is trustworthy
  • Has extensive knowledge in financial matters
  • Will be available when needed
  • Has knowledge of your assets and financial affairs.
  • Will make the financial decisions that you would make (whether or not they agree with you)
  • Will be able to "stand up" for you, be your advocate, and deal with others who disagree with what you want.

This person may be a family member, friend, or a professional such as accountant or attorney.

Communicating Your Wishes

The person or persons you name to manage your financial affairs in the event of your inability to do so, need(s) to know what you want and care about in order to know what to do for you. You should seriously think about and communicate your expectations to them. It is also important that you prepare a list of your assets and critical account information and make sure it is available to them in the event of your incapacitation.


A Conservatorship may be needed if you become incapacitated and have not prepared an Advance Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney for Financial Matters. Establishing a Conservatorship is a court process wherein the court would determine who would act as your Conservator. Your Conservator may be appointed to take charge of your personal and healthcare needs, financial matters or both. It is in your best interest to prepare an Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney for Financial Matters in order to have a say in who will best manage your care and finances in the event of incapacitation.

Life Insurance

Life insurance provides financial support to those who survive the policyholder. It is designed to help survivors continue to live the same quality of life they enjoyed prior to the death of their loved one. It also helps to pay off the deceased's remaining debt. An added benefit of life insurance is that its proceeds may pass to the beneficiaries free of probate. While it is beneficial, it does not offer many of the benefits of a Pre-Arranged Funeral Plan or "Funeral Insurance".

Long Term Care

When needed, long term care can be expensive. Consider speaking with a long term care planner to have a plan in place. Options for obtaining long-term care may include long-term care insurance, Medicare, Veterans benefits, reverse mortgage loans, or Medi-Cal. However it is best to know your options with certainty.

Death and/or Survivor Benefits

If you are working and paying into Social Security, some of the Social Security taxes you pay are applied toward survivor benefits. The amount of these benefits will be determined by the Social Security Administration. For answers to your specific questions, contact the nearest Social Security office or call (800) 772-1213 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays. Informative publications are available free of charge at your local office or on the internet at www.ssa.gov.

If you are an honorably discharged veteran, you may be eligible for burial in a National Cemetery at no charge to you. Your survivors may also be eligible for a number of benefits. Some of the benefits currently available to survivors include a burial flag, presidential memorial certificate, headstone or marker for the grave or niche of the veteran, and, in some cases, burial allowances. As a general rule of thumb, only those who are receiving a regular check from the VA are eligible for monetary burial allowances. For specific questions regarding eligibility, call (800) 827-1000 or go to www.va.gov.

It would also be wise to check with the following institutions to inquire about any potential death or survivor benefits that your family may be entitled to:

  1. Current or Former Employer
  2. Union
  3. Pension Provider
  4. Fraternal Organizations




An estate plan allows you to determine and control what will happen to your assets at your time of death. A proper estate plan will also help you minimize--or even avoid--the impact of estate and gift taxes, as well as probate.



Simply stated, Probate is the court process following a person's death that may include some or all of the following: Proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will;appointing someone to handle the deceased person's affairs;identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property;paying debts and taxes;identifying heirs, and distributing the deceased person's property according to the will or, if there is no will, according to state law. Whether or not probate is required depends on the total value of the Probate Estate. Probate allows for sorting out document ambiguities and resolving conflict;however, it can also be much more expensive, take more time, and be less private. There are several legal options designed to avoid probate for those wishing to do so. These methods are collectively known as Probate Avoiders.

Probate Avoiders

A Probate Avoider is an arrangement made during one's lifetime that will remove assets from a future Probate Estate. Examples of a Probate Avoiders include Beneficiary Naming, Joint Tenancy, Pay-on-Death Accounts, and Living Trusts. A Will is NOT a Probate Avoider.

Beneficiary Naming

Some assets allow for naming a beneficiary to whom the asset will go upon the death of a deceased owner. This is commonly true with life insurance, IRAs, retirement accounts and annuities. It is important to keep the naming up to date.

Pay-on-Death Accounts

The owner of a bank account can name one or more individuals to receive their funds upon their death. Some brokerage accounts, mutual funds and stock transfers provide similar arrangements. It is also possible to complete a DMV affidavit that will automatically transfer ownership of a car or other registered asset upon your death.

Joint Tenancy

By adding another person(s) as joint owners on an asset, that person(s) receives a right of survivorship. There are risks involved with this, such as a falling out between the living owner and a joint tenant.

Living Trusts

A Living Trust can be set up during your life. It is an excellent way to avoid the cost and hassle of probate because the property you transfer into the trust during your life passes directly to the trust beneficiaries after you die. The successor trustee (the person you appoint to handle the trust after your death) simply transfers ownership to the beneficiaries you named in the trust.


A Will is a naming document in which you specify what is to be done with your assets when you die. It should also your executor, or personal representative to carry out the functions of the will. Additionally, you can use your will to name a guardian for your minor children. It should be understood that a Will only affects the assets in the Probate Estate, and, unlike a Living Trust, it does not substitute for probate. Wills must be created and executed according to state probate laws in order to be valid.




Sometimes we are far to private during our lives. It is important that we make sure our loved ones hear the stories we never told.


Why Create Your Personal Life History?

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside everyone, there is a drama, a comedy, a tragedy..” --Mark Twain

Creating a Personal Life History

A personal life history can be written, audio recorded, or video recorded. The newest and most exciting method of recording a life history is on the web.The web-based system offers several advantages:

  1. It can be easily updated at any time.
  2. It is easily shared with family and friends, yet it can also be kept private.
  3. It allows for multimedia, meaning you can add text, photos, audio, and video.
  4. Photos, audio, video are never lost, damaged, destroyed.

Just as the medium can vary, so can the length and style vary. a personal life history can be as short as a few pages, or several volumes in length. It can be done in a traditional, chronological and/or fact-based approach, or a memoirs consisting of memories, feelings, and emotions.

If you desire to prepare a personal life history, yet feel overwhelmed by the undertaking, you may seek the services of a professional. Your Family Service Counselor can assist you in contacting a professional.

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