(FYI...this is a collaborative/contributing post.)
For something so totally guaranteed, it's interesting that we don’t discuss death a little more, especially what happens to all that money you earned, saved and invested. Sure, the topic of death is kinda morbid, but one time I heard an estate planning expert call it a "Love Plan" because it really is the most loving thing we can do for our loved ones.
When a family tries to talk to their elderly relatives about death, a lot of Grandparents will just block it out, cover their ears and say la la la. And on the flipside, talking about getting your estate in order when you’re in your 20s and 30s, the opposite happens. Translation: everyone tells you there’s nothing to worry about yet, as if you may somehow defy the odds and live forever. Spoiler alert: you won’t.
That’s why you need to start realizing the subject of your death is far from pointless because what you put in place now could be the very thing that protects your current/future loved ones should you, one day kick the bucket (which we all will).
In that spirit, here are 3 things worth thinking about:
Friends With Beneficiaries
Possibly the simplest way to protect all that money you worked so hard for (and look after your favourite people on the planet should something happen to you that makes you “living-challenged”) is to go ahead and name your loved ones as beneficiaries on your accounts. That could be your siblings or parents, fiance, spouse or pet dog -- and it could be your checking, savings, retirement or insurance accounts, pension or anything else that asks who is your beneficiary. And the best part: all you’ll need to kickstart this process is have your beneficiary’s details, follow these steps and, hey, they’re going to get the proceeds, even if you don't have a will in place (although you really should have a will in place). Just remember to let your new beneficiaries know, along with all the information they’ll need to access it down the road.
Plan Your Own Party
Anyone that’s ever watched or read The Fault In Our Stars will know how painful and great this idea is. But planning your own funeral is also incredibly helpful in so many ways. First of all, those around you have just lost someone they loved, and grief is so hard to deal with, so managing the emotional stress of trying to organize your funeral is one thing they could possibly use some help with. Number two, your funeral/ celebration/party can cost thousands, so what would be really cool is to pay for this in advance, or at least set aside some money to pay for this so your family don’t get stung by an unexpected cost. And if you think that sounds morbid, take a look at what Hunter S. Thompson did. Clue: it involved a canon and it looked like one incredible send off.
For those that don’t know what probate is, it’s essentially a place where all of your assets and possessions and land get taken to be looked at by the courts, who will then decide the authenticity of your will, understand what debts you have and what taxes are owed. It’s also a pretty arduous process that can cost money along the way and at the end, which is why you should 100% hire a probate lawyer to take this worry out of your hands. That said, because you have now got beneficiaries in place, there should be less need for any court involvement and, instead, your money will go straight to those people you intended to inherit it. Also, if you go ahead and set up a revokable living trust and put your assets into it, then you can avoid the painful (read: long and costly) process altogether.