It is hard to think about death, but organizing your financial paperwork, having a will, making sure you have an appropriate amount of life insurance coverage and even writing out funeral plans, can help ensure that loved ones left behind have a little less to worry about during a difficult time.
Draw up a Will
Only 44 percent of Americans report having a will, according to a 2016 Gallup poll, and that percentage drops to just 14 percent for those younger than 30.
Even if you don’t own much, a will helps family and friends know that they are following your wishes, which can be comforting.
If you have children or pets, it is important to think about their future and who you want to take care of them in your absence. Specify if you have special directions regarding your funeral services, if you want one at all.
Creating a living will is also critical. You’ll want to give your loved ones some guidance on making important health decisions, should you be unable to yourself.
Granting power of attorney to a trusted agent in the event that you are too ill or incapacitated to oversee your affairs is another way to help ensure your estate will be properly managed under any circumstances.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe that a family’s primary wage earner needs to have life insurance, but only three in five U.S. adults own an individual or group life insurance policy, according to the Life Insurance Market Research Association 2018 Insurance Barometer.
“Life insurance can be an important part of an overall financial plan. The money can help your family fulfill your plans for them, such as maintaining their current home, attending college and assisting those with special needs,” says Bill Smith, president of Cigna Group Insurance.
Smith also points out that beneficiaries often have other immediate needs beyond receiving a benefit check. Grief counseling or access to legal document review may be available as part of the policy.
Find out what resources will be available to your beneficiaries and list those details with your policy information to make it easy for them to access this help.
And remember, if something changes in your life — you get married, divorced or have children — you should update your beneficiary information accordingly.
Make it easy for your family to handle next steps. Create a personal information organizer containing the following crucial information to serve as a quick reference:
• Personal family information, such as the names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers of spouses, children and dependents.
• Important contact information, including your attorney, landlord, financial planner, doctors, business associates, etc.
• A directory specifying the location of pertinent documents such as your Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, property deeds, insurance documents, loan documents, tax returns, estate planning documents and more.