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. If you have a policy, review it annually to make sure the death benefit still fits your needs. 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, names a guardian for your minor children and 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 Nolo,com.
- Prepare a Living Will and a 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.
- 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 (in a safe space, hopefully).
- Make Sure your Beneficiary Designations are up to Date: I could have included this in the Life Insurance section, but 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.
- Frequently Tell your Loved Ones 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.