Let’s talk about the end. One day you’re going to die. It’s a fact of life that we’re all going to die. I sincerely hope that day is a long way off, but in the meantime, a little planning will make things a lot easier on yourself and your family.
Long before my father passed away, he wrote out a complete list of all his assets, account numbers, important phone numbers, and location of all critical documents. He also added a brief biography, albeit a bit dry in style, that listed important lifetime dates such as his birthdate, dates of military service, the date of his wedding. He kept these documents in his briefcase, which was always under his desk. Even though he was a long way off from death at the time, he suffered a stroke while my sister was visiting him. She called me in a panic while he was at the hospital, and even before I was able arrange a flight, I was able to tell her to look in the briefcase for guidance on contacting his doctors, and insurance policies, including long term care, among other things. The peace of mind that briefcase brought us was huge.
Getting everything in order ensures that others know what you want to happen when you’re gone. And even when you’re not gone, as this story illustrates, because there might be a time when you’re unable to make decisions, whether temporarily or permanently. That is what preparing for the end is all about. In the case of a small estate, this can be a simple matter taking only a couple of hours. The more you own and the more complex your situation is, the longer it can take, but it’s not very daunting if taken one step at a time. If you’ve prepared an emergency Grab-and-Go-Bag for vital documents you’ve already got some of your important information organized so your heirs can actually find what they need.
Note: You can do a lot of this stuff on your own, but it’s a good idea to consult with an estate attorney about your will, assets and general estate planning. This guide is meant to get you acquainted with terms, help you collect what you need, and provide food for thought for making certain decisions.
What To Do
I’ve compiled a list of things to do and consider. Because there are so many things to think about on the list, I’ve decided to break it up into different blog posts offered throughout the coming year; a series if you will that I am calling the Fiscally Fit Legacy Series. Each post will explore a little more in depth the task at hand, things to consider when making decisions, what’s involved, how it’s done and if you will need professional help. We will provide links to resources that will guide you to more of the specifics.
Here is the list of upcoming posts, and what you will need to do:
Make a will
Provide care for your children
Provide care for your pets
Appoint digital assets executor
List your material assets
Make funeral arrangements
Communicating your wishes
While I am not an attorney trained in such matters, my experience as a Daily Money Manager assisting clients as they prepared their own end-of-life instructions, and as a daughter helping my father with his, and a lay person working with my own attorney as I prepared my own documents, I offer my insights, experience, and thoughts. I hope you will find this series useful.
Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. We’re here to Help.