Don’t Make People Guess

by June Greenlaw 

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I’m sure many of you have been through the loss of a loved one who did not leave a will or express their wishes upon their death.  Maybe they died suddenly and far too young.  Those of you who have experienced this know the stress involved in trying to plan a service and decide whether to bury or cremate your loved one.  I encourage you not to put your family in that position.

I realize that it’s difficult to think about your own demise, but let’s face it, none of us will be here forever!  It’s worth taking the time to write down your preferences to avoid burdening those left behind with guesswork.  There are many things to consider and lots of resources available to help guide you.

One such resource is called Everplans.  This service will guide you through planning your service including choosing music, naming those you’d like to speak, noting scripture you’d like to have read, etc.  You can also upload and store important documents.  The service is free for 30 days which would allow you to think through things and print out plans if you don’t want to subscribe.  If you choose to store documents, the fee is $75 per year: a small price to pay to allow your family to know your wishes and have all necessary paperwork in one place.

If the thought of uploading sensitive documents has your skin crawling, consider buying a fireproof safe to store these precious items. You should also make a list of bank accounts with logins and passwords, gather insurance paperwork, and note where you have small policies that are offered for free at places like banks.  Write down things loved ones should know about insurance that you may have through your employer and beneficiary information.  Consider storing a copy of each of your monthly bills so that things such as cell phones or car insurance can be canceled easily.

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The suggestion of writing your own obituary might have you feeling like you’d seem self-absorbed, but you can ask family and friends for help.  Consider posting something on social media asking people to write 3-5 sentences that describe what they think of you as a person or what they think are your most impressive traits.  Maybe ask folks to share their favorite memories of time spent with you.  It will not only be a gift to your loved ones when they don’t have to do this, but it may even be an eye-opening ego boost!

If you have the ability to prepay for your service, please do it.  If you have not already done this, think about starting a separate account that you put a small amount in each month to be used for this purpose.  It’s sort of like a Christmas Club, but for end of life costs.  The average cost of a funeral is about $7000, so divide that among the years you think you have left and put that amount in this account each year.  The amount of stress this will relieve will be priceless!

Name an executor to carry out your wishes.  This should be a person you trust to make sure that what you want to have done IS DONE regardless of what others think about it.  Write letters to the important people in your life.  These words will bring comfort to them as they go through the grieving process.

Personally, I have used Legal Zoom to create a will, and I thought the price was reasonable and the process was very easy.  If you believe there is a need to spell out who you want your belongings and assets passed onto, you’ll need a will to avoid making a bad situation worse.  I implore you to consider doing these things sooner rather than later as none of us are promised tomorrow.

 

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