Planning AHEAD: A Gift to Your Family

The majority of people, 98%, wish to arrange their affairs to live well in their later years, and ensure that their end-of-life plans follow their wishes. Still, it is something that many people find challenging.  Only 23% follow through with documenting and sharing those plans with their loved ones to carry out those wishes.  However, end-of-life planning is one of the most significant gifts you can give your loved ones. It is all about thinking ahead for what’s to come and communicating your final wishes with those you leave behind. It involves serious thought about who you want to make decisions on your behalf, who should inherit your possessions, and who should be in control when you are gone. A complete end of life plan covers planning for both illness and death, and each category has tasks and documents specific to that situation. Taking time now to organize pertinent information and important documents, and sharing that information with your loved ones, will help reduce some of the burden for your survivors. The hardest part is often just getting started. 

Planning AHEAD is a course from UW-Madison Division of Extension that takes a comprehensive approach to end-of-life planning. In seven, 1-hour classes, Extension educators guide participants through examining health care wishes, handling financial changes, legal requirements and documentation, distribution of personal property, end-of-life decisions, dealing with grief, and the emotional ramifications of all of the above. The program is designed for people of all ages, both for those who want to prepare for their own passing, to make things easier for family and loved ones, and for those who have, or are in the process of, losing a loved one and are dealing with the transition.  

This course is not only available to those experiencing a serious illness, but is also for anyone who feels they would like to plan for the inevitable and share a concrete direction regarding their wishes.  The course features a planning workbook to help define and organize the tasks and documents associated with end-of-life decisions. By working through these sessions, participants find that it helps to make these tasks less overwhelming and stressful.You are invited to join an in-person course, Planning AHEAD, co-facilitated by Carol Bralich, Fond du Lac County Extension. Registration is available here, or by calling the Ripon Public Library 920-748-6160.  Classes are Wednesdays, June 5-July 24 (no 7/3), 10-11:30 at Ripon Public Library, 120 Jefferson St, Ripon, WI 54971.  Check out the program website at

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