6 must do items if your preparing for death.
Before you start looking at the religious and philosophical answers to this question, I have to quickly warn you that this discussion leans more toward the material than the spiritual. What I am going to address today are those actions one should do prior to one’s own death that will make life a lot easier for the survivors.
Death and taxes are the two things we know we’re going to have to confront at some point. However, I find it interesting that most folks are better-prepared to deal with their annual tax burden than they are with the inevitability of death. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, including not wanting to confront our mortality, but if you are prepared for your eventual demise, you might be able to put more attention on living your life.
These are some of the things I believe you should do before you die:
Buy Life Insurance
(This may or may not be the most important item on this list but, hey, this is a life insurance website).
If there are people who depend on your income, life insurance can ensure that their lives won’t be up-ended financially after your death. Most people refuse to entertain the idea of leaving their family financially devestated if they shoud die unexpectedly.
Even if you’re not concerned about leaving a financial legacy to an heir or charity, the cost of your funeral and burial will typically be north of $10,000. Do you want to leave that expense to family members or friends?
Moreover, your life insurance can me a lot more than a death benefit. In today’s economy, life insurance can be a solid method for accumulating wealth because of the policies that build cash value over time and earn tax-deferred interest.
Life insurance can be an excellent tool in your retirement planning toolbox because the cash you accumulate over time can be withdrawn via policy loans which are tax exempt.
Additionally, life insurance as an investment is not subject to the constraints the the fed puts on typically investment products like 401(k) or IRAs. And don’t forget, the death benefit you leave for your beneficiary or beneficiaries does not come with a tax liability.
Life insurance can be a win-win since you can develop a tax-exempt income stream and leave money to your family tax-free.
If you have a policy now, review it annually to make sure the death benefit still fits your needs and you have confirmed the beneficiaries you want listed on the policy. If you don’t have a policy and you fit into the category above, check out term life insurance quotes on this website. You might be surprised how inexpensive it is.
Prepare a Will
Your last will and testament is basically a set of instruction as to what happens with your property upon your death. It names a guardian for your minor children and it names someone to manage property you leave to minor children.
In a will, you name your executor, the person to whom you assign authority to carry out the wishes in your will. The document can be done very simply at using the instructions provided by Nolo.com.
If you die without a will, the state court will create one for you. This is referred to as dying intestate (dying without a will) and it happens more often than you might imagine. When a parent dies without a will, the court generally awards your assets to the surviving spouse.
But, if you are a single parent with 2 or more children, things can get much trickier and in many cases siblings will battle for your assets in court. And, what if you have children by more than one person. How will the judge know how to divide your assets but evenly? Take the time to create a will and then update it annually.
Prepare a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A living will is a written statement detailing the type of care you want or don’t want if you are incapacitated A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that appoints a person you trust to make health care decisions for you if you lack the capacity to make your own health care decisions.
Today, every hospital that you are admitted to will ask for these documents. Without them, you may be leaving the decision making to a hospital administrator rather than those who love you. These are legal documents that will take less than 30 minutes of your life to create.
But just like your will and life insurance policies, it’s critically important that you update these documents regularly so that if the time comes, you’ll be in charge rather than a hospital administrator or a judge.
Consolidate Financial Information, Passwords, etc.
Make sure that you have all your account information (banks, stockbroker, etc.) in a central location. Create a spreadsheet containing your account numbers, log-in information for financial website you work with (online banking, bill-paying, etc.) and make sure your spouse, or children, know where it’s being kept.
If at all possible, do not keep this important information on a hard drive unless it can be encrypted and password protected. Instead, save your information to a “cloud” account so that it can be accessed anywhere if the accessor has the password to do so.
Most cloud storage facilities will send the account owner a warning whenever an unknown user attempts to access the account from an IP address other than yours. The good news is cloud accounts are inexpensive and you save a ton of information and access it from other devices whenever it’s needed.
Make Sure your Beneficiary Designations are up to Date
Although this was mentioned in the Life Insurance section, you might also have beneficiaries established for your 401K and IRA account. Make sure these are all current, especially if you have had more children or changed your marital status since they were set up.
If you fail to keep your beneficiary designations current, you may be forcing your spouse, children, or siblings to fight it out in court. Don’t do that.
Frequently Tell your Loved Ones about Your Planning and You Love Them
This one should probably be on a different list, but sometimes we take this one for granted. Many on their death beds have lamented about not doing this one enough, so I thought it should be included in this post.
There comes into the life of every man a task for which he alone is uniquely suited. What a shame if that moment finds him either unwilling or unprepared for that which would become his finest hour. Winston Churchill