Final Expense Checklist
Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and organize your finances before you die.
No one wants to talk about death and dying, but it happens to everyone, some sooner than others. If you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you're getting up in age, or you're worried about a sudden accident or medical event, it pays to have your expense list in order to save your loved ones stress and the need to make financial decisions when they're focused and absorbed with grieving over their loss.
Expense planning may involve a variety of aspects, including estate planning, funeral plans, notification to creditors, trusts, and probates.
In order to keep your final expense wishes, payouts, debt repayment or money gifted to survivors, make sure that a will has been prepared in advance. Trusts should also be set up well in advance, utilizing the options and advice provided by an accountant or attorney.
Seniors or their adult caregivers or family members should also designate a health care proxy or Durable Power of Attorney who will be able to make decisions regarding medical care in the event your parent is medically unable to make rational and informed decisions regarding their own care.
The basic idea of a trust or will is to define specifically where money goes, who gets it, and when.
The final expense checklist could contain, at the minimum:
Determine a target date to try to pay off remaining debts or expenses prior to any major surgery or move to a long-term care center. In addition to paying off debts, pre-planning funeral and burial arrangements is also advised and can be part of a final expense checklist.
A financial checklist should also include funds gained from 401K accounts, pensions, retirement accounts, or proceeds from investments. In some states, these type of assets are not covered by Durable Power of Attorney status and may be nearly impossible to disburse following the death information regarding the beneficiary or beneficiaries is not offered. Make sure beneficiary information is correct, recent and updated on a regular basis.
Seniors who have been diagnosed with terminal medical conditions, or who are concerned about cognitive abilities that may be affected by disease processes such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's should arrange to meet bank managers regarding access to accounts.
Many bank lenders suggest that spouses open separate accounts in their own name before the death of a partner or spouse, and arrange for transfer of funds prior to death, even if joint accounts are already created.
When preparing your checklist, include the basics, such as:
Don't leave confusing and stressful details to your loved ones. Prepare ahead of time by developing your own final expense list and instructions checklist for your spouse, children, friends or other family members. NOTE: It is important to speak with your financial adviser or attorney before making decisions and considerations such as the ones listed above.