I have been an executor three times now. Twice the process was fairly easy and straightforward. The wills were clear as to intentions and documents were easy to find. The other one – well let’s just say if I never have to deal with that kind of administration hell again, not to mention the disgruntled beneficiaries, it will be too soon.
Attempting to carry out someone’s wishes when they have passed away can be difficult when they are anything but clear. That’s why I have decided on the following steps to make things easier for those who must someday do the same for me.
4 End of Life Strategies Your Survivors Will Thank You For
1. Have an estate plan
Many people think if they have a will, their estate plan is complete, but there is more to it than that.
A good plan should be designed is such a way to:
- Avoid the costs of probate. Many types of property, or forms of ownership, do not go through probate, e.g. jointly owned property, life insurance proceeds, assets with named beneficiaries, trusts.
- Minimize estate taxes.
- Make the will very clear with a detailed distribution strategy.
2. Prepay funeral expenses
It sounds a bit morbid to plan your own funeral, but it’s a kind thing to do for your next of kin. One reason to pre-pay for a burial plot or urn storage and the service now is that – if long years pass – there might not be money for a funeral, which leaves heirs in the position of having to pay for it themselves.
Since I’m a no-nonsense frugal type of person, I can make price comparisons and shop wisely – and, yes, cheap out. Heirs may not be emotionally ready, or have the time to do this. Plus, I don’t want them to be upsold into paying for a more lavish send-off than I may want.
3. Consider passing wealth to the next generation during your lifetime
It’s very likely I will spend and enjoy what I have accumulated, but once I have a clearer idea of how this retirement thing will pan out, I would like to assist my grandchildren financially in some way.
I could possibly assist with education costs, or help them buy their first home. Or, maybe smaller gifts such as a trip, or start them on the road to investing.
I would like to be able to see them enjoy it. I don’t want it to be too late to be of any real use to them once I’m gone.
4. Downsize your possessions
I have heard of people who hid items of value such as cash or jewelry, and forgot where they were hidden. Even if they are not hidden, sorting through a lifetime’s worth of possessions is a huge burden on heirs.
Some heirs simply use an estate sale service and let them deal with it. The risk here is that valuable items might get sold for less than they are worth, or keepsakes thrown away with old paperwork and household items.
It would be a wonderful idea to gift any items of high value such as jewelry to family members while you are still alive.
I plan to keep my belongings pared-down and organized (Editor’s note: Thanks, mom!).