Steps To Prepare Your Family for Your Death

Thinking of your own death can be uncomfortable. This is especially true if you are a parent with young children. The idea of not being there for them as they grow is unpleasant, to say the least.

As much as you might not want to think about it, planning for your death is something any responsible parent should do. Even beyond the more formal and official parts of preparing, parents need to teach children about death so they understand how to process this fact of life.

It might not seem like a pressing concern, but planning for your death is important for protecting your family. With the following steps, you can do more to make sure you have the necessary arrangements for your death.

Get Organized

The first step is to gather and organize the documents that will be important in the event of your death. If you already have a will, you should obviously include it in this process. Beyond that, gather documents like your birth certificate, marriage certificate, insurance documents, property deeds, vehicle titles, bank statements, retirement account statements and documents that reference any loans or debts you may have. 

Beyond the documents, you should create a document to inventory your physical possessions. This could include items that have official documents associated with them like cars or property, but you should also include items that might be of interest to your heirs. As an example, you should document things like jewelry, expensive electronics, furniture, antiques and any art you may own. 

Consider a Living Will

While you are making plans for the event of your death, you should also think about what may happen if you are incapacitated. How will your affairs be handled if you are alive but unable to communicate your wishes? Who will make medical decisions for you? Having a living will can be a way to make sure your wishes and preferences are known if you are ever ill or injured and unable to make decisions for yourself.

Plan for the Distribution of Your Assets

You want to make sure your assets end up under the control of or benefiting the right people if you were to pass away. Without the necessary legal documents, this might not happen. A lack of documentation could also lead to significant legal complications for your heirs. This is one of the reasons why preparing a will is so important.

As an alternative or supplement to a will, many parents prepare a living trust. A living trust can be advantageous for some families. When asked, The Warner Law Firm, a group of living trust attorneys in Encino, explained, “A living trust can provide more control over how assets are distributed to minor children. This includes giving them their share of the estate piecemeal, perhaps every year or every five years after they turn 18.”

Make After Life Arrangements

Beyond planning the finances, you also need to make plans for your funeral and other after-life arrangements. One of the most important points is to just make sure people know what your wishes are. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Would you like to donate your organs? Do you have a specific cemetery where you wish to be buried or place you would prefer to have your ashes scattered?

Letting people know what you want is a good first step, but you could also consider making and funding some of the arrangements ahead of time. You don’t need to pay for anything ahead of time, but you can do things like find funeral packages, select a coffin and headstone and choose different locations that will be relevant to your funeral. You can also make sure to have life insurance or funeral insurance to fund your after-life plans.

Make Copies of Everything

The arrangements you are making for the event of your death are important. You would not want any of the documents to be unobtainable. For that reason, you should make copies of everything. Have doubles or even triples of the key documents relevant to your estate planning and last wishes. You should also plan to store the copies securely.

You might want to keep copies of important documents with your lawyer, in a safe at your house and in a safe deposit box at the bank. You could also consider giving copies of documents to a trusted person for safekeeping. Another option is to store digital copies of documents on your computer, on a flash drive or in secure cloud storage.

As a final point, you need to realize that this work is not done once and forgotten until your death. You should review your plans and the documents regularly. Changes in your life circumstances might require adjustments to some of the plans. You should also consult with a lawyer to assist with the preparation of legal documents relating to your estate.

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