An End of Life Checklist Makes Estate Planning Simple

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Dealing with loss is rarely easy. This is particularly true when coping with the loss of a family member. However, many people tend to neglect their obligation to get their own affairs in order before they pass. Although it may be uncomfortable to face, it’s a necessary responsibility to ensure that you properly plan your estate.

Let’s take a look at everything you should include on your end of life checklist.

Choose Between a Will or Trust

As you might guess, it’s essential for you to have either a will or trust in place before you pass away. Interestingly, many people assume that trusts are only appropriate for those who have a significant amount of wealth.

However, anyone who owns assets with a cumulative value of $160,000 or more should consider a trust as a viable option.

To help you make your decision, trusts are best for those who want strong control over their asset distribution. They’re also great for those who want to protect their estate from litigation in the future.

Furthermore, trusts provide you with a level of privacy that a will does not.

On the other hand, writing a will is best for those who wish to explicitly name guardians. Additionally, wills can help you declare how you would like to pass down your assets.

Make a Comprehensive List of Your Estate Assets

Regardless of which document you choose during your estate planning, it’s imperative that you write a comprehensive list of your assets. This will help ensure that everything is appropriately passed down to your heirs.

In general, assets consist of:

  • Cash
  • Checking/savings accounts
  • Jewelry
  • Corporate finances
  • Retirement plans/pensions
  • Investments
  • Land/real estate

Keep this in mind moving forward so that you can take the appropriate action for your situation.

Determine Your Funeral Arrangements

This is one of the most uncomfortable segments of end-of-life planning. However, it’s also one of the most crucial.

Before you pass, you’ll need to clearly define your intended funeral arrangements.

Organizing a traditional funeral service is one of the most common ways to do so. This also typically takes place within a church or funeral home.

Other options include wakes, viewings, and memorial services.

You might even choose to have a celebration of life, a type of service that allows loved ones and attendees to pay some sort of tribute to you after your passing. These are typically chosen for those who wish to avoid a melancholy atmosphere for friends and family.

Of course, you also have the option to organize a scattering of ashes ceremony. This will take place after the cremation, should you intend to have your body cremated after death.

When it comes to burials, you also have a few options. These include:

  • Burial at sea
  • Natural burial
  • Traditional in-ground burial
  • Above-ground burial

No matter which option you choose, it’s important for you to define it within your checklist. Otherwise, someone else will need to figure this information out later on.

Write an Obituary/Death Notice

Most of the time, obituaries are written after someone passes. However, some individuals prefer to write their own obituaries so they can have full control of the narrative that is published.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a death notice is a document that has basic information about the deceased. This includes their full name, date/place of death, and details about the surviving family members.

It also includes information about any planned funeral or service.

It’s not uncommon to include the cause of death within this document, but it isn’t required to do so. Finally, a death notice also typically has a list of charities that people can donate to in honor of the deceased.

Take Care of Outstanding Estate Debt

Unfortunately, passing away will you have a significant amount of debt and sometimes place this burden on your family members. So, it’s in your best interest to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.

Otherwise, collections agencies may harass their loved ones during a time in which they are supposed to be grieving.

If you have the finances to do so, it’s also recommended that you set aside money to cover expenses like funeral costs and burial expenses.

Something that can easily complicate your passing is requiring your family to pay for these arrangements on their own.

Consider Establishing a Healthcare Power of Estate Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney is someone who can make decisions on your behalf if you are physically or mentally unable to make these decisions on your own. For instance, someone who suffers from a terminal illness may reach a point where they are no longer able to speak or communicate.

This means they would need a healthcare power of attorney in order to make decisions regarding their estate. The individual you choose should always be someone you trust, such as a close friend or family member.

Creating an End of Life Checklist Doesn’t Have to Be Unpleasant

When handled correctly, it will provide you with the peace of mind that everything is taken care of. So, keep the above segments of a comprehensive end-of-life checklist in mind so that you can plan your estate appropriately.

Looking for more tips that can help you out later on? Check out the rest of our blog for plenty of more useful information.

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