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Be Wise With Money

Five End-of-Life Planning Steps

End-of-life planning: five steps you can take – so your family won't have to

Let's be honest, no one likes to think about the end of a life, much less talk about it.

But what if facing your fears could make it a little easier on those you care about most when the time comes?

Preparing for the end of your life is a wise way to show your family how much you care – even when you can't be there. Here are five important steps you can take today:

1. Have a meaningful conversation with those you care about most.

It may not be easy to talk about the end of your life, but it's important your family knows how you feel. That way, decisions can be made with their love – and input – in mind. The Funeral and Memorial Information Council (Link opens in new window) offers resources to help start the conversation.

2. Organize important documents in one place.

This will save your family the frustration of trying to locate them. Documents may include:

  • Bank account information, insurance contracts, retirement plans, investments.
  • Wills, powers of attorney, estate plan.
  • Financial, tax and legal professionals' contact information.
  • List of people who should be notified about your death.

3. Write letters, or make an audio or video keepsake.

The most precious things in life are those that come from the heart. Give your loved ones a special memory of you that they'll cherish forever.

4. Preplan your funeral or memorial service.

Making funeral arrangements immediately after a death is especially difficult for family members. When you preplan your funeral service, you spare your loved ones this difficult task. Document your wishes to critical questions, like:

  • Burial or cremation?
  • Type of casket or urn?
  • Specific clergy, family members or friends to include in the service?
  • Requests for memorial donations in lieu of flowers?

5. Make financial arrangements in advance.

An average funeral, including a vault, costs more than $8,000.1 If you're worried about leaving your loved ones with a financial burden, consider:

  • Purchasing a cemetery or mausoleum plot along with a headstone or plaque.
  • Setting money aside for family expenses, commonly overlooked costs that your family will still be responsible for in your absence.
    • Examples of family expenses include mortgage/rent payments, household utilities and other unpaid debt.
    • Also consider how professional fees, such as church and clergy honorariums, will impact family expenses in your absence.
  • Putting a final expense solution in place or prepaying funeral expenses.
    • For example, you may want to put money in a special account or purchase a life insurance contract that can be used to help cover final expenses.
    • You can use this funeral cost estimator tool (Link opens in new window) to help you calculate your potential final expense needs

Take these steps today. And help provide protection and comfort for the people you love, when it's needed most.

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