5 Action Steps For Planning Ahead And Leaving Well

Photo by jimmedia

Photo by jimmedia

The Certainty of Death

One day, you are going to die. Ponder that statement for a moment.

None of us really like to think about or even talk about this subject. One day, though, all of us will pass away.

I recently read the statistic that over 70% of Americans don’t have any kind of written plan for their death. But, as I mentioned above, there is a 100% certainty that we are all going to die. That seems kind of rude, doesn’t it? In our modern society, it would seem that most people aren’t willing to admit that they are going to die and plan for it, even for the sake of their families.

How you live today and prepare for tomorrow has a tremendous impact on your legacy. Right now, you have an incredible opportunity to leave a powerful legacy that can last for generations to come. But, you can’t drag your feet. You can’t wait any longer. The time to do something about it is right now.

A funeral home here in my hometown is currently using a powerful new slogan in their advertising campaigns, “Plan Ahead. Leave Well.” This is great advice that we should all take to heart.

Action Steps For Preparing Your Legacy of Love

  1. Have a written plan. There are numerous legal documents that need to be completed: wills, living wills, trusts, power of attorney, and health care directives. My suggestion would be to get with an attorney, pay a few hundred dollars, and get it all taken care of correctly for your own peace of mind. In your paper work, don’t forget to establish an executor of the will as well as someone to take care of your minor children in the event that both you and your spouse were to pass away at the same time.
  2. Provide for your family’s financial needs. If you were to die today and you don’t have enough money in your estate to take care of your funeral expenses, as well as take care of a surviving spouse, minor children, and any other additional financial obligations, then you need life insurance. A typical rule of thumb is 10 times your annual salary. So, if you were to make $50,000 a year, then you need to have at least $500,000 in quality, term life insurance. Get this immediately. Do not delay. The best legacy you can leave your family is that you took care of them, financially.
  3. Organize all your important paperwork. You need to have all your legal paperwork from action step #1, plus your lists of life insurance policies, important contact information, funeral wishes, and a listing of any material assets that you want to pass on to other people. All of this should be clearly put together in one place.
  4. Place all of your paperwork in a secure location. You might consider a fire-proof safe in your home. A quality safe will run you $150-200. Or, you may want to go the route of a safe deposit box in your bank.
  5. Tell somebody. This means you’re going to need to have “the talk” that no one wants to have. You need to tell your family members all of these details. You need to get with the executor of your estate, give them copies of all your paperwork, and discuss the details of your plan.

Parting Words of Encouragement

Don’t be part of the 70% who have no plan. If you currently do not have an updated estate plan in place, then cross over and become part of a unique club of the 30% who have prepared their future legacy.

None of us have a guaranteed lock on a long life. Be sure to plan ahead and leave well.

Questions: Are you prepared to leave well? For those who are prepared to leave well, do you have anything to add to these five steps? Are there any action steps that I left out?