10 Ways to Make Things Easier for Your Family After Your Death
If there’s one thing we can be sure of about life, it’s that it ends sometime. When that time will be, we cannot know. Sometimes, we may wonder how things will be for our families if we are no longer there. Many of us will have made plans that can ease matters somewhat for our loved ones: making a will, for example, or taking out life insurance. But are we really doing all we can to make dealing with the inevitable realities that follow our passing easy? No matter how young or how healthy you may be, use these tips to prepare an easier path for your surviving family members, particularly those closest to you.
1. Do Your Estate Planning Carefully
Most of us think that estate planning is simply a matter of making a will. But according to Florida probate attorneys, there may be other ways to arrange matters to reduce the legal fees that would ordinarily come out of your estate. Whatever way you choose to arrange your legacy, be sure that your wishes are made clear. Lawyers may advise you in the light of what most people do, or what they think would be the usual arrangement in your circumstances, but do be sure that the clauses you settle on are what you really want.
2. Decide on The Right Insurance
There’s a lot more to life insurance than you might have thought. Before you start looking at policies, think about what you’d actually want the money to do. Ideally, you should at least cover your debts, but you may also want to make provision for income replacement and your children’s education. Once you know what amount you’d like your family to have, it’s time to ensure that your policies will keep your family covered.
3. Consider Making a “Living Will”
If you aren’t able to speak during the last days of your life, you can’t give informed consent about medical treatment. Many people feel that if there is little or no chance of quality of life after an illness, they would rather not be kept alive by artificial means. A living will specify under what circumstances you would prefer to refuse treatment and may save your family a great deal of trauma as your life draws to a close and in the weeks and months to follow.
4. Gather the Most Important Paperwork Related to Assets
Important paperwork related to your assets may include things like share certificates, property deeds, and car papers. You should also make a list of all bank accounts. Wherever you have important assets, whether it’s moveable or fixed property, try to have proof of ownership.
6. Write Your Letters of Parting
Death waits for nobody. When the time comes, we may not have the time to deliver important messages to the people we love most. Your thoughts will mean a lot to them. Think about the things you would like to say to your parents, your spouse, and your children if you knew that this was your last day on earth, and write them down.
7. Make a List of the Last Instructions
After you die, it’s likely that a person in your close family will have the unenviable task of dealing with practical arrangements. Some of these may be business-related, while others may be personal. Make a letter of last instructions covering the things you would like to have taken care of if you were to die. What these things may be will depend on you, but it could include things like how your pets should be taken care of, and whether you’ve identified a charity to which you’d like small personal effects donated. If there is likely to be a funeral or memorial ceremony, you can also indicate whether you have any preference as to its format.
8. Make it Easy for Family Members to Cancel Subscriptions
Having your next of kin as co-owners of any subscription accounts you may have will help them with canceling them after your death. If you fail to do this, your relatives will end up spending hours on the phone, often with no progress being made. But with co-ownership in place, they can decide if they want to take over the subscriptions or dispense with them, and doing so will be an easy matter.
9. Declutter Your Life
Most of us have good intentions when it comes to decluttering. We’re aware that “things” have been multiplying and that we could do with a bit of a clear-out from time to time. It’s one of those things that is hard to do but feels really good when we’re finished. Do it for yourself, and enjoy the results.
At the same time, getting rid of clutter makes things easier for your family after your passing. It can be very difficult to throw things that belonged to a loved one away, even if we don’t really want them. To them, it will feel “wrong” to dispose of things that they think may have been important to you. It can take years to muster the courage it takes to throw away “junk” or donate it to charity.
If there really are some pieces whose only value is sentimental and that you’d like a family member to have as a memento if you were to die, make a record of them.
9. Assemble All This Information in an “If I Die” File
Compile a special file with a cover page explaining what it’s for and a table of contents showing what it contains. Include important contact details, for example, your attorney’s name and number, and your accountant’s information. Make sure that you store your collection of information in a place where it will easily be found. If you don’t, your relatives may have to spend many hours going through mountains of paperwork looking for the important items you’ve already assembled here.
When my own mother died, I found all her most important documents assembled in one place: a broken fridge that she had converted into storage space. Unfortunately, she also had filing cabinets and boxes full of other paperwork, and it took several days to get around to the old refrigerator! However, she got everything else right, and once I found the cache, it was easy to get her business on the way to being settled.
Relatives never want to listen when we talk about what to do if we were to die (they’re probably hoping we’ll live forever), but ensure that at least one person is aware of the file and knows where to find it.
10. Do a Little at a Time
Getting your affairs in order so that others can have an easy time winding them up is no small task. However, it’s not one we should delay. Instead of going all-out, make your own to-do list and check off an item every week. In years to come, you’ll doubtless have to revisit it, but it’s somehow reassuring to know that you’ve prepared everything that’s needed to help your surviving family members to deal with your passing.
10 Ways to Make Things Easier for Your Family After Your Death