“It is hard to think about death, but organizing your financial paperwork, having a will, making sure you have an appropriate amount of life insurance coverage and even writing out funeral plans, can help ensure that loved ones left behind have a little less to worry about during a difficult time.”
Only 44% of Americans report having a will, according to a poll by the Gallup organization. That percentage drops down to a mere 14% for people younger than 30. Even if you don’t own much, you need a will to help family and friends know that they are following your wishes, which is a comfort.
If you have minor children, you must have a will, so you can appoint a guardian for them in the event that you and your spouse die unexpectedly. Without a will, the court will decide who will rear your children. If you have pets, you can also use your will to express your wishes for their care.
If you have special directions you want for your funeral, like the prayers or songs you would like to be heard, you can also put that in a will.
Having a living will is critical for anyone over the age of 18. This gives your loved ones, guidance regarding what you want them to do if you can’t make important medical decisions. Giving power of attorney to a trusted person will help, if you are incapacitated and cannot express your wishes. An estate planning attorney can help you work through your wishes, figure out who would be the best person to name for these responsibilities and prepare documents to comply with your state’s laws.
You’ll also want to speak with your estate planning attorney about a will and whether you need to have any trusts created. The attorney will also be able to discuss your life insurance and long-term care insurance needs. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you get the benefit of his years of knowledge and experience to make sure all bases are covered, and your family is protected.
Another task: naming beneficiaries on your banking, retirement and investment accounts. If you have these accounts already, do you remember who you named as your beneficiary? If it was a long time ago, you should check to make sure you still want those people named.
Create a personal information organizer that contains the important information your family will need. That includes:
Names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers of spouses, children and any other dependents.
Contact information for the professionals including your estate planning attorney, financial planner, healthcare providers, insurance broker and others who will need to be contacted, if you should become incapacitated or if you die.
A directory that will help them locate all of your important papers, including your birth certificate, passport, property deeds, loan documents, tax returns, estate planning documents and other vital documents.
These are relatively simple steps that will be of great help to your family.
Reference: The Brownsville Herald (Oct. 9, 2018) “Additional Financial Protection for your Family: What to Know”