All of us have something in common, there are people that we love and people that we would do anything for. And while it doesn’t matter if it’s a spouse, parent, child, sibling, or even a dear friend, we all have those we care about. And that’s a great thing about life, and that there are people who would do anything for us as well!
Given it’s the month of February and Valentine’s Day is all about showing love, I wanted to provide some helpful tips on what you can do to prepare, and help those, that you do love. It’s an evitable part of life, we will 100% guaranteed leave this Earth at some point. And it can take only a few hours out of the entire year to ensure your loved one’s are accounted for.
That’s what it’s all about right? Taking care of those we love and making their lives better. So here are some ideas and things to take action on.
The Devil in the Details: When we pass away, someone will be there to handle our affairs. If we don’t name this person, often through our Will as the named Executor of our Estate, then the court will decide for us. At a minimum you need to have a named executor, someone who is willing and also able to handle your affairs.
• Was your Will drafted 20 years ago when your kids were in diapers, and mom and dad still lively and fun? I’m sure things have changed. This is a great time to dust off the Will and review.
• If you have no children, who will you name? Generally, a sibling or close friend, or even a business associate is ideal.
Since we’re talking about courts: If we pass away without a Will, in North Carolina, it is called dying intestate. Again, assets that are not named (via a beneficiary designation or deed) will be passed to our next-of-kin. Be it children, siblings, parents, etc.
• Did you know you can split investment accounts, CD’s, bond portfolios, Private Real Estate, etc. by naming a beneficiary or beneficiaries? The benefit of this is privacy, as well as no hold-up in court. These assets pass directly to those you love. Say you want your church to get 20%, and your kids 80% of an investment account; a simple beneficiary form can achieve your wishes.
• All life insurance policies, IRA accounts, 401k’s, etc. should be reviewed as well.
Share your wishes: We all have an ideal plan for how we’d like to be remembered when we pass. The worst part is when your executor has no idea, and has to pick for you. Or even worse if your siblings and/or children are fighting and trying to make plans.
• Write down your wishes and share them with your loved ones. If you wish to be buried in a family cemetery, tell them. If you wish to be cremated and have a very small celebration of life, tell them. It’s your life – but again, make it easy for those who are mourning so they don’t have to decide and wonder what you wanted.
Share memories and share passwords: It used to be easy to leave memories to our loved ones. A box full of photos, grandma’s recipe book, etc. Now-a-days, so much of our lives are stored online or on our phone in photo albums, social media accounts, etc. Have a plan for your Online Data and all those memories and important items!
• Do you want to leave your Facebook or Social Media page? You can assign your accounts to someone to have as a legacy account, or you may want them deleted.
• Share Google Photos. One thing I love is the ability to share albums with family members. As long as we have access, those photos and videos will last forever and can be shared amongst family and friends.
• Passwords – be careful, but leave passwords to those you trust, again the executor and/or trustee of your estate. Are all your bills on automatic bill-pay? Do you have various online bank accounts? Make it easy, let your loved ones know what you have and where it is.
I hope these quick tips are valuable and help engage you to take action on providing for your loved ones. As I’ve said to many of my clients, we all have 24 hours a day – and we tend to fill it with the priorities we have. If you have any questions, or wish to discuss your plan in more detail, please reach out.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with two quotes to guide you through the month.
“Family is not just important. It’s everything” – Michael J. Fox
“Family and friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches.” – Wanda Hope Carter