Afterlife: being organized even after you are gone!

KICKING THE BUCKET…OUCH!!!

 

We all have to die sometime unless if you are Cher and secretly discovered the fountain of youth during the 70s (subtle jealousy). I am sure even she has had her fair share of sleepless nights pondering what happens after death. I am of the opinion that once you reach the age where you handle your own affairs then you should also create an action plan for when you die. You continue to build on this plan as your grow older or with each notable change in your affairs. It is not a pleasant process (nor easy) for your living relatives to begin to try and sort out your affairs after you die. As you will be indefinitely absent, there will be no one to clarify things, give instructions or dispute any claims on your behalf which is why you need to prepare.

It is important to familiarise yourself with state laws governing legal documents that can be enforced after your death. This differs from state to state thus you may find your handwritten “will” may not suffice as a legal and binding document. If this feels like too much work for you then seek legal counsel from an attorney proficient in estate planning. To you, they may appear as simple words on paper but when it comes to law those words may mean the difference between your family inheriting your estate or your cat becoming your sole heir. So make sure your legal counsel knows what they are doing. The last thing you want is to be looking down from the great unknown watching as your family scrape by while your cat enjoys some vanilla scented catnip.

Think about your estate and what you want to happen before seeking legal help; remember this will cost money “by the hour” so have an idea or plan about you want. Being prepared for your eventual demise will ensure things are managed to your tastes and in some cases may protect your family from abuse by unscrupulous people who may want to hijack your estate. It also makes life and planning easier for those loved ones you leave behind, no one will have to scramble around to remember your middle name or social security number. You may not be able to control when you die but you can try and control what happens after you die. Here are a few points to get you started;

 

The Will:

You need to have a will outlining how your estate will be handled and by whom. Make sure it is legally binding.

 

Background/Personal Matters:

Executor of Will (the one who will ensure that your mean cousin gets your old stinky socks and nothing more)

Power of Attorney (who will act on your behalf if you unable)

Birth Records/ Identity Documents/Citizenship Records (if you migrated to America)

Marriage Certificates/Divorce Certificates

Beneficiary Information (your spouse or children e.t.c, those people who will benefit from your estate)

Funeral Arrangements (if you have special requests like getting buried in your fav rock band t-shirt)

 

Health Matters:

Medical Power of Attorney (who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so, choose wisely…maybe avoid giving this privilege to that ex who cursed you with the pain of a thousand deaths)

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release (releasing your medical records to the person who has medical power of attorney)

Health Insurance Information

Do Not Resuscitate Order (not for fun; be sure you do not want any medical intervention if your heart stops beating)

 

Money Matters:

Life Insurance Policy

Funeral Policy

Insurance Policies (on any assets you own)

Savings/Trusts/Pension/401 (k)s/Retirement Funds (any long-term sources of income)

Bank Accounts/ Credit or Debit Cards (any short-term sources of income)

Tax Returns/Relevant Tax Information

Debts/Mortagages/Leases (any monies you owe)

Monies owed (with written proof, not the $10 you lent your little brother when he had a date…unless he signed for it)

Safety Deposit Box Information

 

Asset Management:

Title deeds for any properties you own

Car Titles

Proof of ownership of any high value assets (not the toaster you won at the food fair but the priceless pair of cufflinks your grandpa left you)

 

Digital Life Matters:

In these technology filled days we have a life online and it needs to be taken care of when you die. The last thing you want after your death is someone hacking your facebook account and posting pornsite links to your contacts or someone using your online pics to catfish their crush.

Social Media Accounts (usernames and passwords)

Other Online Accounts (e.g. your Fiverr account)

Laptop/ Computer Account (if you will own the same laptop for the next 10 years…yeah this might be overkill)

 

So if you have not thought about dying, it might be a good time to start making a few notes…legally binding ones.

 

Sources:

Thorin Klosowski. One Day, You’re Going to Die. Here is How to Prepare for It. http://lifehacker.com/5992722/one-day-youre-going-to-die-heres-how-to-prepare-for-it

Nickel. Do You Have a Death Dossier. http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2011/09/09/do-you-have-a-death-dossier/

National Institute on Aging. Getting Your Affairs in Order. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/getting-your-affairs-order

Lan. N. Nguyen. Wills and other legal documents to have before you die. http://www.aol.com/article/2010/05/13/wills-and-other-legal-documents-to-have-before-you-die/19474906/