The Important Documents You Need to Have in Place Before You Die
It’s probably not the most pleasant thing to think about, but preparing for your own death may be one of the kindest things you can do for your loved ones. Being prepared for the end doesn’t need to be grisly. It just needs to be organized. And that means having all your affairs and documents in order. Here are all the key documents everyone should have in order so your spouse, children, and extended family doesn’t have to think about it for you once you’re gone.
A Will And Living Will
Having a prepared, signed, and certified will is perhaps the most important document one needs to have ready before they die. This document, Country Living explained, will assign an executor and will list all of your final wishes for how your belongings should be distributed after you die. Without it, your belongings will be forced to go through probate. If this happens, Karen McMillan, a certified financial planner and portfolio counselor, told Country Living, your home state's intestacy laws will determine how to pay your debts and distribute your assets for you.
Beyond a normal will you may also consider writing a “living will,” which spells out all your preferences for end-of-life medical treatment in case you become incapacitated.
Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney comes in two forms: A financial power of attorney as well as a healthcare power of attorney.
As Yahoo Finance explained, if you appoint a power of attorney that person can then make decisions on your behalf for legal and financial decisions. This can be a “durable power of attorney,” which becomes effective immediately, or a “springing power of attorney,” which Yahoo explained becomes effective if a specific stipulated event occurs, such as the person becoming disabled or mentally incompetent.
The other is known as a “healthcare Power of attorney,” also known as a “medical power of attorney.” This appointment gives a trusted person the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. It may be a good idea to appoint two different people as your financial and healthcare power of attorneys.
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There are two important things to gather for this bucket: Your latest tax statement and all the information to access your bank and financial institution information. This will allow your loved ones to pay off any outstanding bills, pay your taxes on time, and will allow for your assets to quickly and easily be distributed.
To make things easier on your grieving loved ones it may be a good idea to lay out exactly how you want to be memorialized. Do you want to be buried? Cremated? Have a service at all? Whatever you want it’s up to you, just make sure to write it down. Make sure to also note if you’ve pre-purchased a burial plot or service here as well.
Proof of Ownership And Proof of Marriage
Both proof of ownership and proof of marriage documents are critical to helping your spouse move forward with ease after your death. Make sure to have proof of ownership documents handy for cars, homes, boats, businesses, whatever, along with your marriage certificate so these things can be easily transferred to your living spouse. Without these, Country Living noted, it could take weeks or months for your spouse to take ownership. And just remember, by doing all of this you’re giving one last gift to the people you love: Peace of mind.