We’re not talking about what happens to your soul, or if you are headed to a peaceful place, or even what happens to your physical remains. Have you thought about what happens to the world you leave, your family and friends and your possessions, after you die?
Let’s say you don’t believe in anything in particular. Or you’re deeply spiritual and believe that death will be a wonderous journey. Either way, you should devote time and energy to what happens right here on earth after you die, says Forbes in the article, “What Will Really Happen After You Depart?”
No, not just because it’s the right thing to do and not just because you’re curious. It’s because you want your family to remember you for the awesome legacy you plan on leaving, not because of the horrible hot mess you left behind that they spent three years trying to figure it out, while trying to live their lives.
Estate organization is not the exact same thing as estate planning. An experienced estate attorney or elder law attorney can help you draft your will, your advance directive, your power(s) of attorney and a trust, if you need it. Your attorney most likely also has a copy of those documents.
However, the attorney has no power over what you do with your original estate planning documents, once you leave their office.
One idea is to develop a guidebook or “game plan” for your family and loved ones, while you’re alive. It’s known that there’s a strong correlation between how we face death and prepare our families—and their ability to survive, adjust and start the recovery process. Organizing your estate has been called a “gift of love” that goes far beyond when you can be around to take care of your family.
Answer these questions to start the estate organizing process:
- Does a family member know where to find your advance directive, if you end up in the hospital?
- Where are your legal documents and who in your family knows where to find them?
- Who has access to your bank accounts and knows your login data?
- Are you now caring for someone? Who’d assume that responsibility, if you’re unable to do so?
- Have you made final arrangements for your death, funeral and burial or cremation?
- Who knows about the plans and where the paperwork is located?
- Where are your insurance documents, and who knows where to find them?
- Who’ll take care of your pets, when you are no longer able?
Let’s also keep in mind that getting all these plans and documents in place is just the first step. They don’t do anyone any good, if you don’t talk with your family and loved ones about them. You have to make sure that they understand your wishes to avoid misunderstandings or family feuds, after you’re not around to correct them. The more you can discuss these matters in a calm, caring fashion, the better their grief process will be. Think of this as your opportunity to show how much you care about them. You want them to remember you with love, grieve in a healthy manner and be able to incorporate your loss, as their lives continue. Memories are a powerful force, and how you prepare for your passing, will also be a memory for them.
Reference: Forbes (September 13, 2018) “What Will Really Happen After You Depart?”