Most of us want to protect our families, even when we’re gone. Taking proactive steps to plan for the future helps your family avoid financial stress after your passing. We've compiled a list of tips to help you think through how to protect your loved ones from unexpected expenses in the future.
Remember, any planning, no matter how small, is better than none at all. Taking the first step can significantly ease the burden on your loved ones during an already emotionally difficult time. It also gives you peace of mind that your family has less to deal with when you’re gone.
Here are five simple ways to be a hero and protect your family from future costs and confusion.
1. Create a Living Will
At some point in everyone’s life, we need someone to make medical decisions on our behalf. One way to legally document your medical treatment preferences is with a living will. Without clear direction, medical decisions may be left to family members, who may have different opinions or not fully understand your wishes. For example, you might not want to pursue aggressive treatment for a terminal condition and instead choose palliative care.
Solution: A living will allows you to articulate your desires and values regarding various medical treatments and interventions. You control your healthcare decisions even when you cannot communicate your wishes directly. You also spare your loved ones from the burden of making difficult decisions during an already emotional time. Instead, they can advocate for your preferred healthcare wishes, including pain management, end-of-life comfort, and quality of life.
2. Make a Plan for Your Estate
One of the most stressful moments for a family after the passing of a loved one is clearing out their home and deciding what to do next. What happens to your home, cars, or investments?
Solution: To alleviate this burden, consider planning how you would like your estate handled. Think about whether there are any items you would like donated or any belongings you would like to stay in the family. By taking inventory of what's important to you now, your family can expedite the process and save time and money later. Depending on your assets, you could set up a trust specifying how you want your assets to be distributed after passing.
Will versus Trust: What’s the Difference?
A will provides simple instructions on distributing property to beneficiaries after death. A trust is a complex legal instrument managed by a third party and allows you to transfer property ownership, among other transactions. Both wills and trusts play an important role in estate planning.
3. Compile Your Account Information
In today's digital age, many of our accounts are online. While it can be challenging for us to remember our account information at times, it will be even more difficult for our family members to gain access to our accounts after our passing.
Solution: To ease this burden, make a list of any essential usernames and passwords your loved ones may need in the future. This will allow them to access bank statements, cancel subscriptions, and find necessary information without unnecessary stress.
4. Organize Your Funeral Arrangements in Advance
Thinking about your passing might feel uncomfortable, but knowing that your family has to make these decisions alone probably feels even worse. Most people don't anticipate the cost of funeral services and are caught arranging and paying for these expenses while grieving.
Solution: Planning and paying for your funeral ahead of time is the best way to protect your family from financial hardship once you pass away. Organizing your funeral in advance ensures that your final wishes are perfectly understood and fulfilled, so your family won't have to guess what you would have wanted. Additionally, planning ahead is a financially sound decision, as funeral costs tend to double every decade. By prepaying at today's price, you protect your family from the financial and emotional burden of paying for your funeral service once you're already gone.
5. Start planning now
If you're considering planning ahead, you may be wondering how to get started. Don't worry, it's easy! Taking control of your end-of-life arrangements is an empowering act that allows you to protect your family's financial future and ensure that your wishes are honored. To learn more about end-of-life planning, take a look at our article about documents you can prepare ahead of time.
Solution: Find an Afterall funeral home near you and schedule an appointment. Many funeral homes offer free consultations over the phone or via video chat to discuss preplanning options. Take the time to explore your options at your own pace and consider what is important to you and how you would like to be remembered.
Planning for your estate and end-of-life can be a profoundly personal and emotional journey. It is a necessary process that ensures that your wishes are honored, and your loved ones are taken care of when you can no longer do so yourself.
Please note that this content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult with professionals in those fields for personalized guidance.