This week’s article is very personal for me, because I recently had a death in my family. In addition to the grief and anguish, my family is grappling with a number of issues regarding final arrangements. Let me share three steps to help your loved ones in a time of grief.
1.) Make sure your wishes regarding your final arrangements have been clearly conveyed. If you want to be cremated and your ashes scattered in a favorite location, let someone know. If you want to be buried close to a loved one, make sure that is no doubt about your wishes. Ideally, put them in writing and share them with one or more close family members. Update the information if your wishes change.
Many people make their own funeral arrangements themselves before they pass. This eases the emotional and financial burden on the family. There is always room for some modifications, but you will do your family a big favor if they don’t have to make all the decisions regarding your final arrangements while they are experiencing grief. Funerals can be extremely expensive, so you may not want to leave your grieving loved ones to make those sorts of decisions.
2.) Ensure that your possessions end up where you wanted them. If your investments are complex, you should have a will and an estate plan. If they are not complex, it would still be a good idea to have a will. Also ensure your beneficiary selections are up to date.
3.) Ensure that all of your financial affairs are in order. You should make one or more trusted family members privy to the details of your accounts, including contact numbers. You should also have important documents like Social Security cards, birth certificates, and car titles in a single location so they can be easily accessed in the event of your passing.
Once a year, typically in January, I write a letter to a close family member. In that letter, I detail every account and every asset I own. I include the contact numbers so relatives aren’t left trying to piece together my finances. Even though I have beneficiaries listed on all accounts, I reiterate how I want these assets to be disposed of after I die.
Any of us can die suddenly, leaving behind a grieving family. Putting some thought into this matter today and planning ahead can make the situation less stressful for them.
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