After recently attending a relative’s funeral, I was reminded of the importance of estate planning, and the fact that planning ahead can make things easier on those you leave behind. If you have minor children or others under your care who are dependent upon you, estate planning is critical to ensure your dependents are covered. Things to consider:
- You should have a Last Will and Testament so your property is distributed as you wish.
- Decide up front who you want to care for your minor children should something happen to you before they become adults. If you have disabled adult children or aged parents, make arrangements for their care.
- Make certain that your loved ones know what your wishes are regarding medical treatment and end of life care. You should also have the appropriate legal documents in place (advance directives) to confirm this. This can be especially important if you become incapacitated and cannot direct your own care.
- Are you an organ donor? Many people assume when they sign their organ donation card, they don’t need to do anything else. Your family should also know you wish to be a donor so they will be comfortable signing the donor release forms.
- Are there specific burial/funeral instructions you would like carried out? Have you already purchased a burial plot and made arrangements with a funeral home? Make sure your loved ones are aware of this.
- Tell your loved ones where your will and other important documents are kept. If you have an attorney, provide that contact information.
- Keep a list of your bank and financial accounts, as well as any assets you own so nothing is overlooked when your estate is settled. It is also helpful to maintain a list of outstanding debts so that creditors may be notified upon your death.
Death is not something most of us like to think about, but planning ahead can make things easier on your loved ones at a time when they are mourning.