Advance planning helps loved ones cope with death |

Advance planning helps loved ones cope with death

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Louis Costa Sr. reacts to his daughter's story during a celebration of life ceremony on July 23.

On average, two people die every day in Carson City.

Carson City’s annual rate of death is about 60 per 1,000 residents. Statewide, an average of 1,400 people will die in July alone and more than 20,000 total deaths will be recorded this year.

Many of them leave behind loved ones to deal with the aftermath.

Because death can hit a family suddenly, they often have no idea what needs to be done immediately before and after death.

“The biggest thing people can do is speak honestly with their family about what they want,” said Kathryn Beck RN CHPN, hospice case manager for St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. “Having an advance directive gives a person the chance to let people know what they want done or don’t want done.”

Beck has worked with patients and provided support for families dealing with death for more than 20 years.

An advance directive can come in the form as simple as a letter outlining wishes for care as well as funeral or cremation arrangements. It can also be incorporated into a durable power of attorney for health care, which allows appointed family members to execute final medical requests.

Another aspect is to make family members aware of finances and insurance information. Often relatives may be unaware of investments, additional insurance policies and other assets because the deceased may not have informed others.

“People don’t think they have enough money to do estate planning, but most of the time if you have a house, you need some form of estate planning.

Also, putting in writing how assets should be dispersed can avoid disputes later, when multiple relatives claim rights to property or keepsakes.

One of the biggest unknowns people face is the extent of their insurance coverage. In the case of a long-term illness, where hospice could be an option, family members should make sure what their insurance covers.

“For example, Medicare part A covers hospice care, but part B doesn’t. Most insurance carriers do, but it’s still better to check.”

Overall, communication is what can make the difference and help make the loss of a loved one less painful.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.