There are two different ways to handle the estate planning process. You can take a bare-bones approach and state your final wishes in a simple will and let the chips fall as they may. The other option is a more comprehensive, thoughtful approach that takes other facets of your life into account.
If you take the time to cover all of your bases, you can ease the burden on your loved ones during a time when they will be grieving. One of the details that you can address in advance is the matter of your final arrangements.
Record Your Wishes
The way that you want to be put to rest is a personal matter, and you should outline your choices in advance so that your actual wishes are carried out. This can be personally comforting, and you take responsibility out of the hands of your loved ones.
In addition to the simple fact that they do not have to make the plans themselves, people do not always agree about these matters. When everyone in the family knows how you want them to proceed, there will be less cause for disagreements during this sensitive time.
Your final arrangements can follow religious or family traditions. Some people have their own ideas. There are those that want to make the memorial service a celebration of their lives. It can be a healthy way to say goodbye.
After you make your decisions, you can record them in a letter of last instructions. This is a practical document that you address to the executor and/or trustee that will be acting as the estate administrator.
There are other pieces of information that you should include in this letter, starting with the contact information for personal connections that should be notified about your passing.
Professionals that will be involved in the administration process like your insurance agent, accountant, attorney, and clergy member should be notified as well.
You want to share the location of estate planning documents and other hardcopy financial documents that will be relevant. Most people manage at least some of their accounts online, so you should confidentially pass along a list of the accounts along with the access information.
Speaking of access, you should provide the location of keys and combinations that allow entry to real property you own, vehicles, and storage units, to name a few.
At the end of the day, it is simply a matter of common sense. You think about the information that will be necessary to administer the estate then record it in the letter of last instructions.
A Word of Caution About Prepaid Funeral Plans
There are various entities out there that sell prepaid funeral plans, and all things considered, the reviews are not very encouraging. Over the years, there have been outright scams, and short of this, there are companies that charge unwitting customers exorbitant prices.
You should certainly conduct your due diligence before you part with any of your hard-earned money. Of course, you may have an existing relationship with a trusted funeral director, and people in your network could potentially point you toward a reliable resource you can engage in advance.
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Since you are on this site, you are interested in learning more about estate planning and nursing home asset protection. We have a treasure trove of written materials that you can access, so we invite you to look around and take full advantage of these resources.
In addition to the material that you can find on the site, we go the extra mile in another way. Attorneys Larry Parman, Jerry Shiles, Jeff Green, and Tracy Brock conduct webinars on an ongoing basis, and you can come away with a great deal of useful knowledge if you attend one of these sessions.
There is no charge, and you do not have to go anywhere to join us, so this is a great way to invest some time. You can see the dates if you visit our webinar page, and when you identify the session you would like to attend, follow the simple instructions to register.