As an insurance agent I have come across a wide variety of opinions when it comes to people discussing their own deaths. I am constantly amazed at how people will open up with me so quickly. Maybe they trust an insurance agent more than their own family members.
Some of these folks believe they are heading into the afterlife, one way or another, while more than you would expect seem to feel that there is nothing after you die. But with all of these differing opinions, most do agree that their loved ones will still be around when they are gone and may have to pay some expensive bills as a result of their death.
And here is the rub. If we agree that there will be some costs involved when we go to our great reward, shouldn't we try to minimize those costs ahead of time? Wouldn't it be in the best interest of our surviving family members? It seems like common sense to say "yes". Especially when we know that no one lives forever.
So what can you do to make sure your family doesn't go broke paying their last respects to you? Here are a few ideas of simple tasks that don't need to be put off any longer.
- Have a will. Your will directs the courts to help settle your estate per your wishes. It's very important to keep it updated every few years as your situation changes. And most importantly, make sure your family members know where to find it. Is your will in a safe, or a file at your attorney's office? And never leave it in a safe deposit box unless other family members have a key.
- Have a living will. If you were seriously ill, would you want to be on life support or would you rather have the medical staff "pull the plug"? Your directives can keep your family from keeping you on life support when you would rather pass away.
- Have a life insurance policy. As an attorney friend of mine always says, "A life insurance policy trumps a will." You don't have to wait for someone's estate to be settled because a life insurance policy is a binding contract between you and your insurance company. Remember that when someone dies, the funeral home, lawyer and others will have their hand out waiting to be paid. Your life insurance agent will be the one bringing you a check to pay those bills.
- Pre-plan your funeral. Instead of your kids picking out a Cadillac coffin, you can decide for yourself how modest you want your funeral to be.
- Pre-pay your funeral. My own father did pre-plan but didn't pre-pay. From the time he had planned his funeral to the time he actually passed away, inflation had done some damage. The funeral director shook his head and said, "I'll do the best I can on these prices", and I could tell it wasn't the first time he had run into this situation.
Chris Castanes is the president of Surf Financial Brokers, helping people find affordable life, disability, long term care, cancer, accident and other insurance coverages in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. He's also is a professional speaker helping sales people be more productive and efficient, and has spoken to professional and civic organizations throughout the Southeast. And please subscribe to this blog!