It’s never fun to think about death—especially when it’s your own. But the reality is that all of us are going to die eventually, and if you pass without ever thinking about the financial ramifications of your death, your family may face an enormous burden, and your assets might be lost.
If you don’t have a will or any other legal prep work done, your estate will still be divided among your heirs based on stipulations specified by state law. However, it’s still in your best interest to prepare proactively; that way, you can minimize the financial risks and burdens assumed by your family members and executors, and ensure that your matters are settled as you see fit.
Life insurance isn’t a strictly necessary investment, nor does it pay off in every case. However, for many Americans, a basic life insurance policy is well worth the monthly premium. You’ll usually adopt a policy for a given term, such as 20 years, and pay the premiums monthly until that term is over (or until you die). Upon your death, your chosen beneficiaries will receive a lump sum payment and possibly other benefits. If you have free or reduced life insurance through your employer, take it. Otherwise, crunch the numbers and see if it’s worth it for your specific situation; the older you get, the more “worth it” it becomes.
Wrongful Death Preparation
Hopefully, you’ll die of natural causes after many, many years of life. Unfortunately, many people end up dying as a direct result of someone else’s negligence, such as in a workplace accident or in a motor vehicle collision. If you want your loved ones to have an easier time coping with the loss and getting compensation, it’s a good idea to forge a connection with a wrongful death attorney in advance. They’ll be able to handle your case with compassion and tact if the worst happens.
Last Will and Testament
Writing a will is one of the simplest things you can do to make your death easier, and you don’t need to be an expert to do it. Essentially, your last will and testament will serve as a legal document describing exactly how you want your worldly assets divided, and what you want done with your body after your death. Each state has different rules, so make sure you understand the specific regulations in your state, but for the most part, you can draft a will with a lawyer, using software, or entirely by yourself (just check to see if it needs to be signed and notarized).
In your will, you’ll decide things like who your beneficiaries are (the people who will receive your estate), who your executor is (the person responsible for overseeing and executing the will), guardians for your children (if necessary), and pretty much anything else you want to say to the world after your demise. Be as specific as possible with these items, but they’re entirely your call.
Though not necessary to include in your will or prepare before your death, it’s often helpful to outline your funeral plans in advance. You may have a specific plot picked out, or have special preferences (such as being cremated, or buried in a specific location). Considering the average funeral costs between $6-10,000, this may not be a decision you want left to your surviving family members, who will be trying to make an important financial decision in a time of grief and mourning.
Though you don’t plan on dying anytime soon, since you’re thinking about death, it might be a good time to get some of your finances in order. Set aside a day to take inventory of all your bills, debts, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts. If it’s hard for you to track down this information, it will be even harder for your executor and beneficiaries. Keep everything organized in a master file (which you keep highly secure), and commit to better management practices in the future.
You’re never too young to start planning for your own death. Accidents and complications mean that any minute could be your last, and all it takes is a few hours of planning to establish a legal framework for your surviving heirs to follow. Set aside some time to take care of these matters as soon as possible.
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