SALARIES / MAR. 22, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How To Handle Your Money Before You Die

last will and testament
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In a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin wrote that nothing in life is ever really certain except death and taxes. This has been an often iterated quote by disgruntled taxpayers, but the concept of death alone is usually placed in the back of our minds. Let’s face it: who really wants to think about our inevitable demise?

During the summer years of our life, we work hard to establish as much net wealth as possible. In the later part, it’s likely that you’ll meet your significant other and start a family. Once this transpires, it’s important to purchase life insurance, create a will and ensure that in the event of a death that your family will be left financially secure.

What about single individuals who don’t have family? What happens to the money? Each state or province has different laws, but the general consensus is that the government can attain your estate if no relatives can be located within a certain allotted time period. This means all of the earnings you generated during those painstaking hours of work will go to politicians and bureaucrats.

In recent years, wealthy individuals who do not have friends or family tend to leave their fortune to pets, charitable organizations or worthwhile causes. However, this can only be assured through legal documentation because otherwise no one can make a legitimate claim on the money left behind.

Last year, Chanel Reynolds, a widow whose husband passed away riding a bicycle, created a website called GetYourS*it Together.org, a webpage that offers in-depth details in relation to financial planning and death. It provides free templates, money tips, plenty of resources, details and a blog. The outlet has been featured in the New York Times, the Daily Mail, AOL Daily Finance and on multiple television networks, such as ABC News, CBS This Morning, Fox News and others.

“There are a few simple things I wish I had taken care of before my life went sideways, like a will, living will, and some details jotted down. Should the ground fall out from under your feet—plan now for a softer landing. In fact, it's easy to finish the planning and basic papers your life needs,” she wrote. “In 2009 my husband was killed in an accident. In the following hours, weeks, and months I was shocked by the number of things we had left disorganized or ignored. Critical documents you can spend a fraction of the time doing now. Here are those core items, streamlined.”

Financial planning is important not just for life but also for the afterlife. Here are some steps to consider in order to make certain that your assets will be left to those that you want to inherit your money.

Discussion

Talking finances is one of the most important discussions that a family can have. Instead of conversing in relation to savings, investments and big-box purchases, talk about financial planning in regards to a death in the family. In the event of a death of a husband or wife, it’s important to understand how and where they’ll live once one of them passes or a premature death takes place.

Financial Organization

Akin to creating a monthly budget, it’s also just as crucial to organize your finances, assets, liabilities and other monetary matters ahead of time and on a consistent basis. Once you die, everything will be arranged and organized for your spouse, family member or friend to deal with.

Draft Will

Without drafting a will, a lot of complications can arise and family battles can transpire. By drafting a will with a qualified estate-planning attorney, all of the quandaries will vanish and each of your demands will be met exactly how you wanted them to be. It’s also imperative to update your will on a regular basis.

Incapacitated

A living will is also just as important because if you become ill, incapacitated or incompetent then your family will understand what your wishes will be in case something devastating like this happens. This will consist of a professional writing up a living will, a power of attorney and a medical power of attorney.

Life Insurance

According to a recent study by Limra, nearly half of Americans (41 percent) don’t have life insurance. This could be reported as terrible news considering that many families could suffer tremendously if a mother/wife or father/husband passes away.

If you maintain a family of four or five, it’s extremely important to have life insurance. Even if you can’t afford it, it’s important to find the necessary funds to pay for life insurance. If an accident occurs, the family will be safe and financially secure moving forward. There are many low-cost term policies offered by various insurance companies.

Funeral Outline

It might be a morbid thing to do, but planning a funeral in advance is a wise practice, especially as you approach your winter years, as it can reduce the burden on family members. With a funeral or memorial service outline, you can determine if you want to be buried or cremated and you can give the directions as to what kind of service you wish takes place.

Digital Hereafter

Hillel Presser, lawyer for The Presser Law Firm and author of Financial Self-Defense, published a list of tips to plan for the online hereafter. It encouraged individuals to build a list of all of your Internet accounts, usernames and passwords; take advantage of the inactive manager of Google account; and choosing a digital executor.

“It is important to make sure your online bank and shopping accounts, even your social media, can be closed out, or that your loved ones are authorized to access them,” said Presser in a statement. “You may ask, ‘Why would I care if I’m gone?’ I can tell you from experience: because it can create real headaches, and more heartache, for your family.”

We may not want to think about it, but financial planning for the afterlife is a prudent step for your family.

Are you concerned about your finances once you perish? Be sure to leave any questions, comments or ideas in the comment section below.

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