It doesn’t fall into the category of fun, but preparing your end of life documents is one of the final gifts you give to your family. Having your affairs in order before you pass means they won’t have the worry of finding or completing documents required to carry out your final wishes.
There are a number of end of life planning documents you will need to get in order, but let’s start with the basics. Ask yourself these questions to determine which documents you need.
What do I have and who will I leave it to?
You need a basic will and an inventory of your assets. Designate who receives your possessions (or else the state may decide), and who gets custody of any minor dependents (or else the courts may decide). A will also names the executor of your estate. See more information on whether or not you need a will below.
Do I have insurance or other benefits?
Have all forms on file that summarize your benefits (such as life insurance or retirement funds) and who the beneficiaries will be.
Do I have financial assets to manage?
Have a financial power of attorney document that designates who has control of your finances.
Who do I want to make health care decisions for me if I am unable to do it myself?
A health care proxy and a medical directive designate who will make medical decisions for you and to carry out any end of life wishes if you are unable to do that.
Who gets notified when I die?
Providing your loved one with contacts – personal and professional – will help them inform people of your passing. It will also make it easier to end utility accounts and other services. Also leave information about any credit card accounts – and passwords – so your executor can cancel those. And don’t forget about social media accounts. Facebook, for instance, requires a “verified immediate family member” to request account removal.
Do I want to be cremated? Do I want my remains buried?
Your funeral wishes are an important part of the planning process. Considerations such as whether you want a funeral and burial, cremation or other type of memorial service should be known to family members so your wishes are carried out.
This list is just the start. There are many other records that you will want to gather and keep in a secure place – and of course, inform relatives or executors where they are stored. These are just the basics. One thing to consider is the Five Wishes document, which specifies medical and legal directives and also includes pain management, family reconciliation, comfort issues and spiritual needs. It can be used as a guide and workbook, but it is not considered a legal document in New Hampshire.
Do I need a legal will?
The simple answer is if you have property or possessions that you would like dispersed to certain people, you should have a will written by a lawyer.
Generally, upon someone’s death if there is no will, the next of kin typically receives the property and possessions. If there isn’t a next of kin , it can complicate the process and delegation of property, which is why a will is so important.
Some people may also want to consider estate planning in conjunction with a will. A will can be a relatively simple document setting forth your wishes regarding the distribution of property and may also include instructions regarding the care of minor children. An estate plan goes much further by dealing with the distribution of assets and creating a plan to reduce the taxes and fees associated with their inheritance
Estate planning consideration
Your estate plan typically begins with cataloguing your assets, including investments, saving, insurance, real estate property and business interests.
Creating estate plans will prevent any disputes and unfair distribution. It shows true intentions regarding asset distribution and how to dispel conflicts when you are gone.
Most people would also benefit from digital estate management providers. These organizations gather basic information on the deceased and then work through any and all social, email, storage and subscription services online to systematically cancel them. All you will need to provide is a legal death certificate and some form of government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
Keep in mind that while digital estate management is extremely helpful, providers of the service cannot interfere in financial investments or legal intricacies.
Keep your end of life documents and directives in one secure place, and let your loved ones know the location. At the time of your death, or if you are unable to make your own decisions, this will greatly ease an already difficult and emotional process for them.
This blog post answers the questions:
- What are end of life documents?
- What end of life documents do I need?
- What are the five wishes?
What are end of life documents?
There are many end of life documents, depending on your situation, but basic ones include a will and an inventory of your assets. Information about your insurance and your online log-in and password information are also documents your loved ones should have access to.
What are the five wishes?
Wikipedia provides a succinct definition of the Five Wishes: It is a United States advance directive created by the non-profit organization Aging with Dignity. It has been described as the "living will with a heart and soul."