You never know what the future will hold, and that’s why it is so important to be prepared. But while having your estate and final wishes in order can give you peace of mind, the legal landscape of doing so can be confusing. As a result, people far too often procrastinate on putting the necessary pieces in place. That’s why we put together this list of some of the most important estate and funeral planning documents to help you get started.
1. Last Will and Testament
Your Last Will and Testament contains instructions on how a representative of your estate should distribute your assets after you pass away. This is generally considered to be the definitive legal document that conveys your final wishes--mainly regarding your possessions and dependents. Be sure to write your Last Will and Testament with guidance from an attorney to make sure the executor will be able to carry out your wishes without any room for confusion or misinterpretation.
2. Advance Directive (aka “Living Will”)
An advance directive, also known as a “living will”, specifies what you would like your loved ones to do if you can no longer make your own medical decisions. If an illness or injury incapacitates you, your loved ones will have information on your wishes for health care based on the instructions in your living will--such as what to do regarding life support and organ donations. This document typically goes hand-in-hand with a Healthcare Proxy, which designates a person to act on your behalf should an incapacitating situation arise. Funerals360’s state guides to advance directives can help you easily begin this process.
3. Financial Power of Attorney
Financial power of attorney allows you to designate someone you trust to manage financial decisions regarding your estate if you cannot do so yourself. It’s up to you to choose when the financial power of attorney will go into effect – either immediately, at a specific date and time, or if something happens to you.
4. Insurance Plans
Investing in insurance during the pre-planning process is one of the best ways to protect your family from a hefty financial burden after your passing. Final expense insurance plans, for example, are types of life insurance that can cover the costs of your funeral, burial, and memorial so your family doesn’t have to pay for these out of pocket. Consult with a financial advisor to discuss the various option for you to provide financial security for your family in the event of your passing.
5. Living Trust
A living trust helps your family avoid probate court, which is a notoriously long and often expensive process designed to settle matters of your estate. When you set up a living trust, your assets are transferred to your designated beneficiaries when you pass—without the need for probate.
The team at Funerals360 is passionate about providing tools and information to help you on your journey, including our state guides to advance directives. However, we are not lawyers and do not give legal advice, so be sure to always work with an attorney to make sure you arrange the proper legal documents and have considered all your options.