Even if you think you are still young, it is important to put in writing what assets you have, who is the next of kin, how you would like to be buried, etc….
I always say, life is extremely short. You may be fine today, but tomorrow have your life changed by a sudden illness, car accident, or natural disaster. You just never know, so before it’s too late, start preparing not for your sake, but for the sake of your family.
You are gone at that point, but your family are the ones left dealing with all the loose ends. You can quickly write one using LegalZoom.
- Clarify your wishes. In your will, state whether you want to donate your organs, be kept on life support, buried in a specific place or be cremated and have your ashes scattered on your favorite beach. Whatever your request may be, it will help provide them some guidance, especially when it comes to the harder decisions. I am so paranoid about being buried alive, that I’ve told my parents if something happens, make sure to bury me with a fully charged, old school flip phone since the battery lasts longer in case I wake up. They need to have it powered down as well. I know, who thinks of these things? Someone who watches way too many movies.
- Notify your next of kin all of your assets. For all your investments, your bank accounts, 401K, etc… a beneficiary should have been assigned, but that means all the paperwork had to have been signed. Call and make sure that someone is assigned. It is much easier to pick one person to be in charge of all your assets. You can certainly divide out the responsibilities, but for me, everything goes to my dad. If something happens to my dad, my mom gets it next, and then everything is split between my two sisters. This will also help them determine how much money to pay for the funeral, medical bills, etc…
- Help close your digital footprint. Make a list of all of your accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Wal-Mart, Amazon, etc… Literally list every account you have, so that all of them can be closed out. Except, I am just going to admit, I’m totally vain, so I want my Facebook and IG account to be memorialized. Lisa has graciously agreed to keep it active for me if something happens. Here is a previous article about your digital footprint.
- Consolidate your debt. The one thing people forget is that after you die, your family is still responsible for your debt. They have to make sure to pay your credit card companies, utilities, mortgage, etc… List all your credit cards, outstanding debt for anything else like the car, student loans, and even the utility companies. Make it easy for them and have a list, so all they have to do is make a call versus doing some detective work beforehand.
- Say your peace. In your will, you can also make sure to use it as a way to thank all the important people in your life and how much they mean to you. You can use it as a way to let your family know how you want them to enjoy the money too. For example, I would wish my parents would take all the funds in my mutual fund and travel to all the spots I did not get a chance to go see. Lisa of course has the list of places.
Jokes aside, I do hope you start thinking about a living will. You never know what can happen after death and if it’s not clearly written, unclaimed assets can go to the state, people may fight over what you have. When money is involved, all the crazies tend to come out of every corner expecting something.