1. Prepare a will and estate plan:
A will is a legally-binding document that outlines how an individual wants their possessions to be divided once they pass away. An estate plan can include things like setting up trusts, arranging for the payment of taxes, designating guardianship of any children, and many other decisions. It's important to have a plan in place to ensure that one's wishes are carried out properly.
2. Make a list of assets, debts, and important documents:
It's important to keep track of all your assets and liabilities before you pass away. This includes any real estate, investments, bank accounts, vehicles, or other items of value. Having an up-to-date record of debts can help the executor manage your estate more easily after your death. Additionally, gathering important documents such as birth certificates and marriage licenses should be part of this checklist item.
3. Update contact info for executor or trustee of your estate:
An executor is a person appointed by you to administer the terms of your will. A trustee is a person appointed by the court to carry out instructions in trusts. It's important to keep contact information for these individuals up-to-date so that they are able to manage your estate according to your wishes.
4. Review life insurance policies:
If you have life insurance, it's important to review the policy periodically and make sure that coverage amounts and beneficiaries are still correct. If there have been any changes in your life (such as marriage or children) it's essential that these changes be reflected in your policy.
5. Make arrangements for payment of final expenses:
It's important to plan ahead for the financial costs associated with funeral services and other related expenses after death. This includes evaluating costs for burial versus cremation, setting aside funds to cover these expenses, and/or arranging payment plans with funeral homes or other providers.
6. Create a durable financial power of attorney:
A durable financial power of attorney is a legal document that designates someone else to manage your finances if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so yourself. This document should include details on how the designated person will have access to accounts, manage investments, pay bills, and perform other necessary tasks.
7. Set up an advanced health care directive:
An advance healthcare directive is a type of living will in which you provide instructions about medical treatments you would like (or not like) to receive in the event of a medical emergency or terminal illness. This document should be prepared in consultation with an attorney and should include details such as end-of-life care instructions, organ donation preference, and visitation rights.
8. Identify and notify beneficiaries:
It is important to identify the people who will receive your estate after you pass away (i.e., your beneficiaries). You should also provide them with information about how they can access inheritance funds or other assets. It's important to keep this information up-to-date as changes in your life may impact who receives what once you are gone.
9. Collect important financial records in one place:
Gather all of your financial documents together in one place so that of a medical emergency or terminal illness. It is critical to discuss this document with a lawyer, ensuring that it contains important aspects such as end-of-life care preferences, organ donation wishes and visitation regulations.
10. Plan for the distribution of your personal belongings:
It's also important to consider who you would like to receive any personal belongings such as jewelry, furniture, artwork and other possessions. You should make a list of these items with instructions for distribution and provide the executor or trustee of your estate with this information.