Death is an inevitable fact of life. You can make the process easier on your loved ones if you have your affairs in order. But what exactly does this mean? Here is a guide to what you should do to make sure your final wishes are honored and your spouse or children aren't left scrambling to settle your estate.
Start By Gathering Your Important Papers
What constitutes an important paper is different for everyone, but in general, these are things like legal documents and personal records. By placing them all in a centralized location, those left behind won't have the extra added stress of trying to find what they need to handle your affairs.
The personal records you should have written down and their supporting documentation, if applicable, include:
Full legal name and legal residence
Social Security number
Date and place of birth as well as any baptismal or other church-related records
The full names, addresses, and phone numbers of spouse and children
Birth, marriage, and death certificates as well as other legal records, such as immigration or adoption papers
Past and present employers, and any record of associated retirement or medical benefits
Military discharge papers and any associated benefits
Names and phone numbers of church and spiritual advisors, closest friends, personal physician and medical service providers, and your attorney and any legal services providers
A statement listing where important legal documents can be found
A list of medications and known medical issues, updated regularly
Financial records can be complicated, and they can be even more complicated if family members don't know what they are looking for or where to look.
List all sources of income. This can include a monthly Social Security check, pensions, retirement benefits, 401k plans, etc.
Names and phone numbers of your creditors, including credit cards
Names and phone numbers of your banking institutions and other financial information, such as account numbers for checking, savings, investment income accounts, etc.
Estate liabilities, such as mortgages, property taxes and utility bills for each property
Legal property deeds
Vehicle titles and registration papers as well as other titled recreational vehicles or trailers
Location of will and safety security boxes
Pre-planning your funeral makes the grieving process much easier on your loved ones. It also ensures your final wishes will be executed the way you want. If you have met with a funeral home director and purchased a prepaid funeral, be sure your spouse, children, and/or executor know where to find this information and the name and address of the funeral parlor.