Don't let death catch you unprepared
I got the upsetting news yesterday that a friend and co-worker where I worked died over the weekend. He began having major back pain early in the week but held off going to the doctor. His wife finally convinced him to go on Saturday where he was diagnosed with a major infection that had spread throughout his body. The doctors did what they could, but he died at 6:40pm on Sunday evening. He left behind his wife, a teenage daughter and teenage son, his mother, father, and brother.
Him and I spent where generally the first two to arrive in our area of the office in the morning. We shared an interest in RVing, cars, trucks and technology and would generally start our mornings talking to each other while we settled into our cubicles to begin our days work. I will miss him and our morning conversations very much.
Are you prepared for death?
His death was the talk of the office yesterday, many like me were shocked and upset upon hearing the news. Conversations discussed our memories of him, about how he possibly might be with us still had he gone to the doctor earlier and ultimately many of these conversations led to his family and how he had hopefully set things up to provide for them now that he is gone.
Death happens and not always when we think it will. Statistics say most of us will live to ripe old age of 70 -80 depending on our genetics, gender, race and overall health; however people do die unexpectedly. It could happen to me and it could happen to you. Make sure you are prepared? I’m not talking emotionally, but fiscally and legally? Far too many people aren’t. Why? I have no idea, but they do. Waiting it gambling and you just might lose.
I’m not fully prepared, but I do know what needs to be done and the things that need to be taken care. Do you? If you don’t, how about you start now? I’m going to share the basics of what you need to do in order to be prepared for your unexpected death.
You need a will
Everyone needs a will. Die without a will is called dieing intestate. What happens if you die intestate is driven by your state’s laws, but generally your assets will be divided equally among your immediate family. Having a will however will both allow you fully specify how your assets will be divided and make the whole process of dividing up these assets much easier.
I live in North Carolina, and fortunately a will can be created by any individual person at least 18 years of age and “of sound mind”. You will need to validate your states requirements. This can be done at lawyers.com along with finding a lawyer.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney legally assigns someone the authority to handle your assets and affairs in the event you become incapacitated. At a minimum, it should include the power to:
- Manage and transfer all assets
- Deal with the IRS
- Make gifts on your behalf
- Create and amend any trusts you set up
Lawyers.com also recommends having a Health Care Power of Attorney to “to make health care decisions for you when you’re unable to do so yourself. This person can provide informed consent for treatment, or even refuse treatment for you.”
What would happen to your family financially if you died today? My wife is a stay at home mom to 6 children. She hasn’t worked outside the home since after our oldest son was born (1994). I am the sole bread winner of the family. I set-up life insurance for my family a long time ago and have adjusted the amount as we’ve had more children and as I’ve felt her needs if I died might change.
I also have life insurance on her and each of my children. If she were to die I would need to suddenly pay for child care. Also, have you looked at the costs of burial and funerals lately? They our outrageously expensive. Far more than I have in my emergency fund.
Of course nobody likes to think about these things, especially losing a child, but it happens. Don’t make the mistake of not being prepared. Get life insurance and make sure your love ones and yourself are financially taken care of.
A living will
My friends death at work reminded me of this one. A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. Requirements vary by state, so I would strongly advise that you consult with an attorney. A living will allows you to specify which treatments you do or do not want in the event you either suffer from a terminal illness or are in a permanent incapacitated state. A living will does not become effective unless you are incapacitated; until then you’ll be able to say what treatments you do or don’t want.
If you don’t have a living will, someone or the hospital will have to make these decisions for you. Don’t place the responsibility on your family, take some time to save them from making these agonizing decisions by creating a living will.
Create a “in the event I die” folder
I have a folder in our safe that contains a 3-5 page document. It describes where all of our money is, current balances, websites addresses and the location of our passwords (not with the document). It also contains information about our life insurance policies and all other financial related data.
It also has had a step by step process that my wife or a close family member could help my wife follow in order to take care of everything. This includes who to call (banks, lenders, insurance companies, my employer, etc).
I’ve done this to make it as easy as possible for my wife to do the things that need to get done in the event I die unexpectedly. I don’t want her to have to worry about all of this, she will have enough on her. All she has to do is open the folder and begin following the steps. Her and I have reviewed this and she knows where it is and what it’s for. I’ve also seen this referred to as an asset inventory.
This is something easy that you can create with no cost. No lawyers or fancy documents are required.
Do you have these items? Anything else you would suggest that I’ve missed? Add a comment!
Photo by: springballgowns