Putting Your Affairs in Order
Death and taxes — they’re both unavoidable. And while this may be an unfortunate state of affairs, that’s life. So, we had best deal with it. The latter can be dealt with by using the good advice of a tax professional. But the former, though it may sound somewhat morbid, should give us pause to consider the fact that death is certain for all of us.
The sad truth is that not enough of us take these moments to consider what will happen when we’re gone. In fact, 55% of Americans pass away without a will or an estate plan. One could glean from this statistic that over half of us either die unexpectedly or didn’t confront the fact while we were still living, that we need to have our affairs in order before the day comes when we draw our last breath. Here are some of the affairs that should be kept in order before we are referred to as the “dearly departed:”
Your will is the foundation of your estate plan. The main purpose of a will is to disburse property to heirs after your death. If you don't leave a will, disbursements will be made according to state law, which may not be what you actually wanted.
Another essential document that will be useful is a Letter of Instruction (a non-legal document that typically accompanies your will, which is used to express your personal thoughts and directions concerning items in the will).
Durable Power of Attorney may help protect your property in case you become physically incapable or mentally incompetent to handle financial matters.
Advanced Medical Directives lets others know what medical treatment you might want or enables someone else to make medical decisions for you, in case you can’t express them yourself.
Something else to consider is life insurance. The truth is that unless scientists discover a way to cheat the aging process, we all will be faced with the certainty that one day our bodies will perish which means that every single one of us will at one time or another have used for a life insurance policy. Since there are different kinds of policies available and every individual’s and family’s insurance situation is unique, you should consult with an insurance professional for guidance on the best type of life insurance for you and your family.
The average life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared to 73 years for men, which makes it extremely clear that the odds of a woman having to deal with her late husband’s financial obligations are far higher than the reverse.
Either way, dealing with debt is something that can be planned for while you’re still around. It may involve a somewhat uncomfortable conversation but a very important one nonetheless. Life insurance can help pay for debt after someone passes away, but another effective tactic is to eliminate as much debt as possible while you still can. Reducing monthly expenses and using the extra money to paying down credit cards is just one way to approach the issue.
The bottom line is that while it is unavoidable that we will be gone someday, it is also true that the sun will rise again, and we can alleviate the loss for those left behind by planning ahead.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.
Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable– we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. Member FINRA & SIPC