If there’s one thing we all share in common, it’s the fact that we all die someday. As Steve Jobs once said, “Death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.” We’re all going to die, and as much as we don’t want to die, we still have to make certain preparations for it legally.
When people think about the things they need to do before they die, they don’t think about the legalities, estate planning, and other boring things. People think about skydiving, bungee jumping off the tallest bridge, or petting a lion. And as important as it is that we make every second of our life count, we still need to take care of the boring things. That way, when we leave our friends and family, they’ll have some guidance when we’re gone. That said, here’s everything you need to do before you die:
Get legal help
When it comes to planning your estate, it’s more than just writing down your last will. It’s an intensive process that requires time and assistance from an estate-planning attorney. Having an attorney to help with your planning will make the process smoother and easier for you. They will also help make a plan that will minimize your tax liability and protect your assets. They will also help you if you plan on making changes to your plans in the future.
Write your will
Writing your will is the simplest task in estate planning. Your will should include:
- Who will be the guardian of your dependent children (if any)?
- Who will obtain physical assets, such as any items, heirlooms, or real property (homes, buildings, cars)?
- Who will obtain non-physical assets such as bank accounts, insurances, 401k plans, or other important documents?
Write an advanced-care directive or living will
People don’t often think about writing their advanced-care directive or living will. But this might be one of the most important parts of estate planning. When you write your living will, you can assign a health care power of attorney, someone who will make medical decisions for you when you cannot do so. Or you can choose to write specific instructions on what doctors should do to you if you were to be seriously injured or unable to decide for yourself at the moment.
Assign durable power of attorney for finances
Besides assigning a health care power of attorney agent, you must also assign an agent for durable power of attorney for finances. Make sure to assign this role to someone who you’re sure will do their tasks. Their tasks include paying your bills, depositing checks, managing any financial affairs you need to be handled, and even businesses you own.
These are two immensely powerful documents, and you must be careful with whom you assign each power. Durable power of attorney for finances means that the agent you choose will access all your assets. And in some sad cases, people assign this power to the wrong people and their money ends up being stolen by their agents. Make sure that you pick the right person so that you know that this power won’t be abused.
Plan your funeral
People often think that when people die, everything is left for the living to handle. But that’s not always true. Preparing for your own funeral can help ease the trauma for the friends and family you’ll be leaving behind. If you don’t want your loved ones to have a harder time after your death, you can already leave instructions on how you want your funeral to go. These could include:
- How you want your body to be disposed of
- Where you want to be buried
- Travel arrangements and expenses for family members that live in far-flung areas
- What you want to be written on your obituary
- If you want to donate your organs
If you have any request that you’d like to be done after your death, you can leave instructions for it.
Yes, you should be able to do everything you want before you die. Make a list of all the wild and thrilling adventures you want to go on while you still have time. And try your best to finish it all. But don’t forget that what’s listed above is just as important. Planning your estate before your death will bring you peace of mind. It will also help your friends and family know what to do after you’re gone.