Too often, families are left unsure of the way forward when grieving the loss of a loved one, as plans for their final arrangements and corresponding finances are left unsettled before their passing. Taking a proactive approach to end-of-life planning can help ease these burdens and support a smoother transition for your loved ones.
Tips for preparing your end-of-life finances
Consider who you want as beneficiaries of your estate. Ensure you take time to consider which family members you want to have as decision-makers and beneficiaries of your estate. You may also need to update them across different financial accounts. For example, your spouse may have died since you originally listed your beneficiaries, which could affect the plan for your estate. Changes like these should be reported as encountered and can help your assets be released quickly after your passing.
Get life insurance coverage. Life insurance is one financial resource that helps make it easier for your loved ones to carry on financially after you die. Your beneficiaries will initiate a claim once the death certificate has been issued, and they’ll receive the death benefit (cash) to use how they see fit. This could mean funding your funeral costs, paying off your medical bills and much more.
Appoint an executor and power of attorney (POA). Even with the most meticulous pre-planning, there are often loose ends left untied. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a trusted family member or friend appointed as the executor of your will and possibly a power of attorney who can step in and make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to.
Finalize plans in a written will and last testament. Once you speak to your loved ones and confirm who will facilitate your end-of-life plans, meet with an estate lawyer to have your will and last testament notarized. This will include the outlined roles of your family, any beneficiaries and an advanced directive should you see fit.
Consider meeting with funeral or burial experts to pre-plan your services. Pre-planning and budgeting for any services after your passing is an excellent way to relieve some of your family’s stress. Consider whether you want to be buried or cremated, where you would like to rest and any third parties you would like to have officiate. Further, write your preferences into your will to help give everyone peace of mind. While not legally binding, it helps guide your power of attorney on how to proceed during a challenging time.
Enlist the help of experts
Once your documents are finalized and you’ve made copies for the necessary parties, consulting with an attorney, financial professional and funeral consultant can help ensure everything is set in stone. An attorney will notarize your will, a financial professional can help you understand your life insurance options and your estate’s worth, and a funeral director can help ensure your end-of-life preparations are precisely what you envision. While this can feel like a somber task, it can help ensure your wishes are met and take stress off your loved ones in the future.