Having one’s affairs in order will save loved ones from hassles in the event of an unexpected death. Estate planning is important for letting survivors know the final wishes of the deceased, including end-of-life decisions, distribution of assets and settling the deceased’s affairs. Here are five things that everyone should do before they die.
#1. Create a Will
Dying without a will complicates the disposition of assets. A surviving family member may be forced to go through the process of becoming a voluntary administrator of the estate. If the estate must be settled in probate court, a judge may not make decisions that are in line with the deceased’s wishes.
#2. Name a Health Care Proxy and Make a Health care Power of Attorney
In the event of a serious injury or sudden illness, it may not be possible for the affected person to make his or her own decisions about health care or prolonging life through extraordinary measures. Assigning a durable power of attorney to a spouse or other trusted individual gives him or her permission to make medical decisions. A Health Care Power of Attorney dictates how a person wants his or her end-of-life decisions carried out.
#3. Purchase Life Insurance
Dying can be expensive. There could be medical bills to be paid, funerals and burials to pay for and loved ones who relied on the deceased’s income. Life insurance can help with final expenses and provide a family with money that can help them move forward with their lives after the death of a loved one.
#4. Take Inventory
It is important for a surviving spouse or loved one to be aware of what bills exist and need to be paid. This could include any:
- Credit cards
- Mortgage information
- Home equity loans
- Auto loans
- Other debts owed
#5. Share Access to Information
When a death occurs, loved ones will need access to important documents, like birth certificates, bank accounts, property deeds, insurance policies, and contact information for an estate attorney. Having all these documents in an easy to find location and sharing that location with loved ones will make it easier for them if they need the documents. But it is not just physical documents that need to be shared. Access to digital assets, including investments, online banking, even social media accounts will need to be dealt with by loved ones in the event of death.