Wednesday, October 3, 2018

4 Overlooked Estate Planning Moves

When people think about estate planning, they typically think about drafting a Will and passing on property or money to family or other loved ones. However, preparing for the future may involve other areas you may not have considered.

Increased life spans, new technology and rising costs could mean making plans beyond deciding who will get what. Here are four estate planning steps that are often overlooked, but which can have a big impact on you and your family:

Make a plan for your future medical care

Our health naturally deteriorates as we age, but accidents and sudden illness can also greatly impact one’s quality of life. Planning for future medical care could help you maintain a measure of control during some worst-case scenarios.

One way to plan for future care is through an advance directive. This is a legal document where you can record preferences and instructions for medical care and grant another person power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so for yourself. 

An advance directive can help guide your family and doctors through important decisions that could impact your quality of life.

Think about your digital assets

As our lives increasingly move online, having an end-of-life plan for our digital presence and files is becoming more important. Loved ones may need to access your computer or email to find important information, such as financial statements. They might also want to close certain accounts to help prevent fraud or to aid with the grieving process.

Many sites make it easy for family members to access online information or close accounts, but some do not. Taking steps now could help this process go as smooth as possible when the time comes. This may include things such as keeping a secure record of important usernames or regularly backing up documents saved to your computer and other devices.

Consider burial costs

The price of a funeral can be expensive. In many countries it can even cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. The burden of this expense could be tough for your loved ones to shoulder, especially since families often need to come up with funeral money on short notice.

With this in mind, you may want to familiarise yourself with the costs of funerals in your area. Knowing the average costs of burial fees, coffins and flowers could help you factor the expense of a funeral into your estate planning. 

You might decide to set aside money specifically for the service, or look into other ways to pay, such as taking out a funeral insurance policy.

Share your funeral wishes.

Planning a loved one’s funeral can be difficult for reasons beyond the cost. Often, family members have no idea what the deceased would have wanted. Discussing any funeral wishes you may have with family could help remove some of the guesswork.

If you have any strong preferences or general thoughts about your own funeral, sharing these with your family could help them honour your wishes. This might include things like preferring cremation, wanting an eco-friendly burial or requesting a favourite song be played at the service. You might also consider writing down your funeral wishes and giving a copy to a trusted family member or friend for when the time comes.

Planning for an uncertain future may not be fun, but it could help your family better cope with their loss. Making a plan to address medical issues, digital information and your funeral may be important. The more consideration given to these subjects now, the easier it might be for your family to close out your final business and say goodbye.

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