Although no one likes to think of their life coming to an end, it’s important to have a plan set in place for when that day arrives. It will ensure that you can live your life knowing that you have taken care of everything and that when that day arrives you know it will be dealt with how you wish.
Having a plan alleviates the pressure off your family members and ensures that your loved ones will be taken care of even after you have passed. This is especially true if you’re primarily responsible for providing for their needs.
1. Establish your last will and testament
Establishing your last will and testament is an extremely important task to carry out. However, the details within a will are usually straightforward and simple, which is why some individuals prefer to go down the estate-planning route.
Estate planning is an extensive process that arranges the management of your estate both during your life (if you are deemed incompetent) and after your death. This process includes your last will and testament.
2. Review Your Will From Time To Time
When it comes to your last will and testament, It is suggested to review it every couple of years to ensure that you still want the same plan in place and that you are still happy for your assets to go to the people you have chosen. If you need help, you may contact a lawyer with extensive experience in probate and estate law to help you draft your last will and testament and review it periodically to check if it needs to be updated.
On the other hand, creating a last will and testament can be challenging, especially if it has to undergo probate. For example, in Australia or wherever you may be located, probate is necessary to prove the legal authority of the executor named in the will to administer the deceased person’s estate.
In that case, your surviving loved ones may also need the assistance of a legal professional to guide them through the process of applying for probate in court. They can help ensure your will is validated before distributing your assets to your respective heirs or beneficiaries after your passing.
3. Assign a power of attorney
This comes under the umbrella of estate planning, but it is still a crucial step in making sure your family is protected. Assigning an attorney ensures that you have legal documentation which allows an individual to act on your behalf. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that someone you trust is in charge of your affairs.
While finding a good attorney, you can choose how much power you would like the individual to have over your affairs, this will be documented so the individual cannot go against your wishes.
Typically, you would assign a financial and medical power of attorney, unless you want it to be the same person. The best idea is to keep a note of this in case it is something you would like to change in the future.
4. Arrange your funeral ahead of time
Although arranging a funeral for your own self is a morbid task, it can save your family thousands which means you can have the send-off that you choose. As well as this, arranging your own funeral minimizes the probability of a family dispute as it is already taken care of.
There are two options to choose from when it comes to funeral planning: burial or cremation. There has been a rise in the number of people who opt for cremation due to the availability of flexible prepaid direct cremation plans.
When it comes to planning your own funeral, do it step by step to avoid overwhelming yourself. If you feel more comfortable, you can enlist the help of a family member to take some of the stress away.
5. Review your life insurance plan
When it comes to your life insurance plan, it’s vital that you choose one that has the right cover for you and your family. Start by listing all the things you would need your life insurance to cover as this will help you determine the type of life insurance you will need.
If you have family members that depend on you financially, make sure your life insurance policy covers the income that they will lose once you pass. The 2020 Sunlife cost of dying report outlined the factors that make the cost of dying so expensive so you can bear these in mind when choosing your life insurance plan. With the cost increasing each year, make sure you have a life insurance plan in motion that protects your family’s financial stability.
6. Organise your bills
The majority of us have a draw with scattered paperwork and bills that we don’t ever sort out. When we pass this then it becomes a burden on someone else as they try to cancel repeating transactions and debit cards.
To help your family avoid this task, go through all your paperwork and organize it accordingly. A document wallet is a great way to keep all your important documents in one place once you have sorted through them.
Once you have arranged your documents, make a note of which card is attached to each bill so your family doesn’t have to figure this out at a later date. This will ensure they can easily cancel your bills without having your payments roll over meaning money is unnecessarily spent.
Moreover, if you have debts to certain creditors, settling them all as quickly as possible may be best. Don’t wait for your estate to pay all your debts after your passing, as it may reduce the assets to be distributed to your heirs or beneficiaries.
Generally, before your assets are transferred to their respective new owners, the estate needs to settle all the deceased person’s debts, and the remainder will be subject to distribution. But in that case, the value of the assets may be diminished after all the monetary obligations are settled. This is why it’s advisable to pay all your debts in your lifetime to ensure your family’s financial future is protected after your passing.
7. Keep Your Important Document Safe
Don’t keep your original documentation files in a ‘safe deposit box’. The box is sealed in some states after the death of the owner until the assets have been settled. However, the process of settling estate becomes easier when the original will is in hand. So, keep the original copy with your lawyer or a fireproof box present inside your house or office.
Another option is to scan the important paperwork and save the virtual copies on a trustworthy website like vitalesafe.com (it has a free space of up to 100 MB). Share access to any trustworthy person in your family or friend circle who can handle things well.
8. Secure Your Digital Assets After Death
Besides online banking, shopping accounts, and investment, it is crucial to think about your social media accounts as well. For instance, Facebook has the option of selecting someone who can handle your account after the owner’s death.
However, you should also think about giving the charge of your blogs, websites, or other online activities to someone faithful.
9. Pays Debts After Your Passing
If you have debts to certain creditors, settling them all as quickly as possible may be best. Don’t wait for your estate to pay all your debts after your passing, as it may reduce the assets to be distributed to your heirs or beneficiaries.
Generally, before your assets are transferred to their respective new owners, the estate needs to settle all the deceased person’s debts, and the remainder will be subject to distribution. But in that case, the value of the assets may be diminished after all the monetary obligations are settled.
Communicate with your heirs about your debts. Mostly, the heir-at-law doesn’t have to pay that are not covered by the estate. However, if anyone has co-signed a loan, then they will be responsible for it even after your death.
Moreover, if you have a secured loan (like a car loan or mortgage), then the inheritors will be required to either make payments to the lender, give the asset to the bank, or sell it. Regardless, family members don’t have to pay unsecured debts like medical bills, or credit card balances even if the estate is not covering that. Most importantly, ensure that your family members know about all these details to prevent any inconvenience in the future.
This is why it’s advisable to pay all your debts in your life to ensure your family’s financial future is protected after your passing.
10. Leave a Farewell Message For Your Loved Ones
Apart from the financial aspect, losing a beloved person is a difficult part for any family. Leaving a farewell message at those times will give them comfort and peace.
There are a lot of digital tools that can help you write your last words and deliver them at the right time. Take Stornest as an example; you can save any documentation, video, or audio recording as a farewell message to your loved ones.
To Sum It Up
Although it’s not the most uplifting thing to do, putting a plan in place for when you pass can help your family save a lot of time and money. This ensures they can focus on honouring your memory without a dark cloud of legal bills over their heads.
I’d suggest starting with estate planning and funeral plans as these are the two main things that will be in motion once you pass. Estate planning gives you full control over your assets and allows you to have a detailed plan in place. Moreover, funeral plans allow you to stagger the cost of a funeral over a period of time, so your family aren’t left with a hefty bill.
Furthermore, having plans in place ensures you can carry out the end of your life in the way that you wish.