Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row!
No one wants to imagine themselves dying or becoming severely disabled, but it is important to plan for these possibilities from a financial perspective.
If you’re comfortable with your finances and have an ample amount saved up for retirement, you likely believe you’ve got all your financial ducks in a row. But if you fail to plan for the end of life financially, you might be putting your dependents, heirs, and your finances in danger.
If you’re less-than-prepared financially when it comes to end-of-life or disablement arrangements, keep reading. We’ve outlined five vital actions you can take to get your financial ducks in a row.
Please note, several of these documents must be notarized. Check with an attorney for specifics regarding these documents and parameters.
1. Write up a Last Will and Testament.
A surprising 6 out of 10 Americans have not prepared a will or living trust, according to a new survey from Caring.com. Of the roughly 40% who do have a will, the majority are older adults, though nearly half of Americans over 55 do not. Only 22% of millennials and Gen-Z adults (ages 18-36) have this important document.
That’s right! If you’re a young adult and in possession of assets, you need to have a will, too. How will your family members or significant others know how to distribute your assets without one?
Having a Will is especially important if you have kids. In the event of your death or disablement that precludes you from caring for your children, you need to designate who you want as a guardian for your children.
2. Give someone you trust a Power of Attorney.
A power of attorney letter gives another person the power to act in your place in the event of your incapacitation. Giving this document to someone gives them the ability to make legal decisions about your property, finances, and medical treatment when you are unable to.
3. Give a loved one the passwords for your accounts.
This is one bit of information many of us never think about, and it’s important. In this digital age, much of our important information is locked away online, including our banking information. Share your bank account password with someone so they can access your finances in the event of your death or disablement.
4. Choose the executor of your will.
Appointing the executor of your will is one of the most important tasks necessary for creating a thorough and useful will. An executor is someone who is responsible for carrying out your final wishes outlined in your will after your death. A good executor will minimize family friction and confusion.
An executor’s duties include:
- Taking inventory of your estate
- Filing final income tax returns
- Alerting banks and government agencies of your death
- Distributing assets to your beneficiaries
When appointing an executor, there are a few key points to consider:
- Choose someone in good financial and legal standing.
- If you do not have a spouse or family member to appoint, ask a trustworthy friend who is in good health, or you could appoint a bank or trust company.
- If you choose someone who lives in a different state, check both of your states’ laws to be sure they do not require executors to be family members or beneficiaries.
5. Prepare a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order.
Lastly, if you so desire, prepare a DNR, or do-not-resuscitate document in case you need or want it. A DNR is a written or oral medical order instructing medical professionals not to perform CPR on you if your breathing or heartbeat stops.
The choice to give your medical team a DNR order is a hard one. It is typically made by individuals preparing for a life-threatening surgery or nearing the end of their life and suffering from an illness that will not improve.