So that last episode of The Walking Dead got me thinking...
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No one plans on dying, but the reality is that it's going to happen to all of us eventually. It's also a topic no one wants to discuss, but again, unless someone actually finds the Fountain of Youth or some sort of antidote to bring people back from the dead, it's going to happen at some point.
Not to mention, accidents happen.
I recently had a friend pass away. He was in his early thirties. A friend from my co-working space lost two of her friends in the same week and they were both in their late twenties. In each of these cases it was an accident no one saw coming.
Even though we all know we can go at any moment, a lot of people are leaving their state of affairs in disarray.
Earlier this year, USA Today reported on a 2015 study from Rocket-Lawyer Estate Planning and Harris Poll which found that 64 percent of Americans do not have a will. If you don't decide what happens with your money after you die your state of residence will decide for you. This could lead to some major headaches for your loved ones.
In this article we're going to layout some of the paperwork you need in preparation for when you die. Just note that you should consult with an attorney if you have any questions. Also note that what you need to do may change depending on where you live. Each state has different laws — which is why you shouldn't do any of this without legal counsel.
In helping my best friend after her father recently passed away, I was forced to notice the stark reality of living in the U.S.: No one gives you a second to mourn your loss or even breathe before you have to deal with the deceased person's financials.
It may sound bleak, but it's true.
That's why it's important to always have beneficiaries on the accounts that ask for them (like your retirement account) and a will or trust depending on what your attorney suggests. Furthermore, you should tell your loved ones where to find this information.
For example, I don't have any kids and I'm not married, so my brother is the beneficiary to my IRA and he knows where to find it. I'm also the beneficiary on his for the same reason.
You'll also want to appoint an executor. In this day and age, you may even need a "digital executor" so they can access all of your online accounts. You'll also want to roundup any debts you may owe at the time of your death. Again, an attorney can help with this.
Guardianship of Children
If you already have children you need to get on a will or trust STAT. Reason being that this is the document that tells the courts what you desire for your child's custody. If you don't do this, you run this risk of letting the court system decide who the legal guardian should be. This alone is enough reason to get your paperwork in order.
Living Will and Funeral Arrangements
A living will would let your family know what to do should you become incapacitated. Having to decide whether or not to take someone off life support is one of the most difficult decisions people have to make, so make it easy for your loved ones by creating a living will.
Lastly, you'll want to consider laying out funeral arrangements. You're not going to want family members arguing about whether to cremate or bury you. Trust me, it's not pretty. Additionally, you'll want to consider getting a plot or finding ways to cover the cost of your funeral.
I know it's uncomfortable to talk about death, but as the old saying goes, "There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes." And speaking of taxes, we didn't even cover estate taxes (yes, there's a death tax and it varies by state) so make sure to cover that with your attorney as well.