Today I want to give you some news that will be really terrible for many of you – you’re going to die. It might even hurt. While I’m not scared of dying so much, I don’t want my family to be in extra pain when I go. That’s what prompts me to write today’s post – no, I’m not dying of some rare disease (that I know of), but I love my family. I want them to grieve (I know that’s a little selfish, but don’t you want your family to miss you when you’re gone?), but I don’t want them to have a difficult time otherwise. What’s the best way to help them? My answers may surprise you.
For many people, they refuse to think about death or what happens when they die. I believe this is why a lot of people don’t like church. I also think it is why a lot of people won’t make a plan for what to do with their stuff or how to take care of their family when they’re gone. Let’s talk about some necessities for estate planning, starting with four major documents you need to have:
- A Last Will and Testament (a.k.a. “Will”) – this document allows your wishes to be carried out when you die. Who do you want to raise your kids? Who gets the house? Where do the investments go? What about that prized coin collection? A proper Will answers all those questions, or at least officially states your position. If you want your family to be able to deal with your stuff when you die, you need a Will.
- A Living Will (a.k.a. “Advanced Directive”) – This is the document they always ask you about if you go to the hospital. It is the document that answers, “if I’m on life support, should they unhook me, wait a while, or let me be a vegetable?”
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney – If you’re unconscious, doctors can’t ask you if you’re allowed to take medication or have a procedure done. This document tells the doctors who you trust to make those decisions if you can’t make them on your own.
- A Durable Power of Attorney – This is similar to #3, but it applies to pretty much all situations (not just health care). This document allows the one you name to make financial decisions for you, sign paperwork for you, even file taxes for you. It is a SERIOUS document, but a powerful one that is needed if/when you aren’t able to make some decisions on your own.
If you have those four documents in place, you’ve officially done the bare minimum preparation for planning your estate. I can hear you now saying, “…but they cost too much…” Baloney. Unless you have a super complicated situation, you can get these forms to fill out yourself from places like LegalZoom (offers more support) or US Legal Forms (cheaper). If you need personalized attention, you can pay an attorney a few hundred bucks to put these forms together for you. My aunt has done estate planning for decades and does a top-notch job for what I believe is a reasonable price. Yes, it is more than these online services, but it is also one-on-one assistance through the process and all you have to do is read and sign the documents when the attorney is done.
These documents should all go in your Love Drawer with the rest of the things Stacy outlined in that post. Love your family enough to do this simple thing.
One More Thing
If you earn an income that your family depends on, please be sure to get life insurance. Don’t be a moron and skip this part PLEASE! I know those are strong words but as our breadwinner, if I kick the bucket and didn’t have life insurance, Stacy’s left to figure out how to keep up our house, take care of two kids and put food on the table each day. While I know she’s quite capable and there’s nothing wrong with a woman working outside the home, it would mean Humorous Homemaking would become Stacy goes and gets a day job and puts the kids in daycare. That’s not her calling and it would be wrong of me to impact our family in that way when it could easily be prevented.
If you’re not a breadwinner or the income you bring in isn’t required to maintain the household, life insurance isn’t quite as important, but it also isn’t very expensive for most people. Get good LEVEL TERM life insurance about 10x the amount of your income and you’re covered. How much will it cost? It all depends on your age, your health, etc. For us, I got this insurance on myself for about $200 per year. You can read more on life insurance in this post I wrote a while back.
Well, it is your turn. I know many of you have lost loved ones and dealt with the havoc of those who died without these simple things in place. How did it impact you?