A Guide to Planning Ahead
The holidays are coming to a close. Many of us find ourselves reflecting on the accomplishments and struggles of the last twelve months. As we look ahead to the New Year, we often think of the changes we would like to make. Some of us work on our health. Some of us work on our finances. Some of us choose to spend more time with family and friends, while others plan to travel. Regardless of the New Year’s resolutions we plan on making (or breaking), there is one task that all of us ought to consider. All of us, without discrimination and sometimes without order, will be broached with having to deal with the death of a loved one.
There is no downside to planning ahead.
Sit down with your family while the conversation can be lighter, intangible, and perhaps a little candid. Discuss your wishes and arrangements ideas.
Not sure how to start the conversation?
Here are a few conversation starters:
- What song would you like played at your funeral?
- What would you like written on your tombstone?
- Discuss the first time you experienced a loss.
- In your opinion, what is the most memorable death scene in a book/movie?
- Which actor/actress would you like to portray you in the movie about your life? How would you like the movie to end?
- If you could bring someone (friend/family member/historical figure) back from the dead to spend an afternoon with, who would it be?
Other matters to discuss include the following:
Gather all data about yourself and family. Not sure what to include? Here is a link to our arrangement form to give you an idea of the information required to complete necessary documentation at the time of death.
Gather and Organize All Key Documents
Have your Last Will and Testament in order and in a safe and accessible location.
Gather life insurance and other types of insurance (disability, home, auto, health, travel, mortgage, etc) information including coverage amounts, policy numbers, and beneficiaries.
Record the location of other important documents such as:
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Passports or citizenship
- Banking, home ownership, vehicle ownership
- Other legal documents
Make note of all utilities and services providers, including cable, phone, memberships, social media). Make sure to incorporate account numbers and all other pertinent direction.
Money, Money, Money
Let your family know where to find how much you have and where you keep it. A family does not want to be left wondering about mystery bank accounts or money under mattresses.
Look for worksheets where you can record a list of your assets and liabilities. We offer families The Executor’s Toolkit as a means of simplifying the the estate management process.
Talk and make note of as many details as you can for your family. Having the conversation ahead of time and having the information placed somewhere safe in an orderly fashion will save your family time when it is needed.
Take the opportunity to start the year off by preparing for the worst so that you can enjoy the best.