The other day a colleague of mine lost his mother. She wasn’t ill or anything of that nature; it was sudden and unexpected. It’s a reminder how fast things can change in life and how those changes don’t just impact us, but also our loved ones. Death is unpredictable and therefore, it’s always important that we recognize that it will eventually happen to all of us and in many situations is unexpected. As a result, it is important that as adults we accept this and plan for it.
Death is always emotional, unpredictable and always occurs at the wrong time; however, there are some ways that you can ease the burden on your loved ones. One of those ways is to be organized from a financial standpoint. That is why I always recommend having a document in place that your loved ones can go to upon your demise. This document, what I call a document locator, is nothing more than a roadmap of your personal finances. In other words, a listing of your assets and liabilities, where important documents are located, on-line log-in information and a list of the professionals that you deal with. For example if you have a life insurance policy, you should list the policy number, the agent and where the policy is located.
Just ask yourself, if you should unexpectedly pass, how easy it would be for your loved ones to locate your assets and close out the final affairs of your estate? I would venture to say for most people, if they were honest with themselves, they would admit that it would be very difficult. Therefore, having a document locator will make things easier on your family and ease their burden and after all, isn’t that something that all of us want?
Unfortunately, you can’t do a document locator once and forget about it. It is a living document that constantly needs to be updated. I know it’s a hassle; however, the only other alternative is to leave your loved ones a mess and add to their burden, not ease it. For the great majority of us, I assume that is not the legacy we want to leave. Therefore, something as easy as a document locator is an easy way to reduce the burden on your survivors.
There are other things that we can do to prepare for the inevitable. For example, we can buy a burial plot or even pre-plan a funeral. The bottom line, and every family dynamic is different, there are things you can do ahead of time to plan for the inevitable that will ease the burden on your loved one. I recommend all responsible adults spend time planning, so that when the inevitable happens you have given your family the tools to close out the final affairs of your life.
Just because you plan for the inevitable does not mean you have a death wish or anything of that nature. What it means is that you are a responsible adult who accepts the realities of life and wants to ease the burden as best you can on your loved ones. It is a great tribute to your loved ones if upon your death your affairs are in order and organized; thus, making the closing out of the final affairs of your life as easy as possible on them.
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