Preparing for the Day No One Wants to Think About

Planning for arrangements in the event of your death may seem like a daunting, and even creepy task, but the peace of mind you’ll get makes it worth it. Who knows, it may even tack on a few extra days to your life.

First off, whether they’re in a file folder in your home or in a bank safe deposit box, make sure all of your documents are in one (ideally fireproof) place. If you keep your important documents in a safe or a safe deposit box, you’ll want to make sure that your loved ones have the key and/or combination they’ll need to access them. Be sure to include any and all of the following documents: investment documents, retirement accounts, insurance policies, Living Will and your Last Will and Testament. Some documents of secondary importance you may also want to include are: frequent flyer account information, recurring credit/debit card payment info, and any union contact info.

If you have any other cash or valuables hidden in your house, make sure to keep your loved ones abreast of their whereabouts, too. You wouldn’t want that ten thousand dollars you have hidden under a floor board going to some stranger who buys your house in the future. While the details may change, situations like this are more common than you might think. The good news is that they’re quite easily avoidable.

You’ll also want to inform your family of your wishes regarding your funeral. By making specific arrangements ahead of time, you can do your family the favor of not adding frustration to the grief they’ll already be immersed in following your death. Give them a list of all of the persons and organizations you’d like to have contacted in the event of your death. You can make arrangements (and even pre-pay) with a mortuary ahead of time. You may also want to give some thought to the type of funeral you want and impart this to your family as well. Lastly, advise your family of how you want them to deal with your remains. Do you want your organs donated? Do you want to be cremated or buried? Where would you have them spread your ashes? It’s better to let them know now, rather than have them guess later.

Should some illness befall you and render you into a vegetative state, a living will can provide your family and medical staff with your instructions on life support, resuscitation, etc. Consider the contention that a living will could have saved the parents and husband of Terry Schiavo. A living will may provide a simple solution and prevent what could be a very complex and arduous problem from taking root.

You’ll also want to complete a Last Will and Testament. A will lets you direct custody of your children and/or pets (if you have them) and outline the division of your assets among your loved ones upon your demise. Again, taking the time to execute a will ahead of time could save your family and/or friends a lot of disharmony down the line. Making preparations ahead of time is a wonderful way to demonstrate your love and respect for family and friends after you’re gone.

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