Preparing for Death and Dying

The Modern Survival Guide #77

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  1. Preparing our loved ones for our death
  2. Estate planning

Preparing for Death — Don’t Fear the Reaper

The first part of preparation for death is to prepare ourselves. And the core of that preparation is to get over, as best we can, our fear of death.

The Hard Talk — Preparing Our Loved Ones for Our Death

The second thing we must do is prepare our loved ones for the possibility of our death. This isn’t an easy talk. It’s not something that people will thank you for, at least not in the moment. But it is absolutely necessary if we want to ensure that our loved ones are not unduly burdened by our passing.

  1. What to do with your body
  2. What your funeral should look like
  3. Who is administering your will

Estate Planning

The will discussion is a good way to move into a related topic, which is how to prepare your assets for your passing. A will is a good start, but what we all really ought to do is some preparatory work.

  1. Procure long-term care insurance: Odds are, you’re going to end up in some form of long-term care facility as your life ends. You can limit financial damage to your family by procuring long-term care insurance, and once you’ve lived into your 60s you probably should do this.
  2. Set up property transfers: Do you want to pass your land to a conservation group, or divide it between family members? These are things to consider and prepare for in advance, and can usually be done with the same lawyer who draws up your will.
  3. Set up financial transfers: Wills are great, but if you really want to make things easy on your family it may be a good idea to set up joint accounts with the people who will be inheriting your money anyway. You might also want to set up living trust funds for family or charitable giving — talk to an accountant to see what your options are if you have significant financial assets.
  4. Arrange for pet accommodation: When you die, who gets Fluffy? This is a non-trivial question, particularly if people in your family have pet allergies, don’t want pets, or don’t like Fluffy. Figuring out in advance who will take your pet is good for the pet and removes a burden on the family.
  5. Set up cleaning services: Your home, if you live in anything larger than a two-bedroom apartment, is going to be a bitch to pack up after you die. Setting aside money for moving services is a good way to take some of the burden off your family. Similarly, if you have significant assets, setting aside funds for an accountant or other professional services may be a good idea to help your family tidy up your financial life.
  6. Organize your documents: We run significant portions of our lives on paper and electronic media. Keep these things organized and make sure that the executor of your will is aware of where things are — important documents, bank records, and your password list are all good things to keep track of.
  7. Set up power of attorney: Someone with power of attorney is legally authorized to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This is a very important step in ensuring that your death occurs in the fashion you prefer, your will is honored, and your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Once you become elderly, or once you suffer a life-shortening medical event, it may be a good time to set up power of attorney for someone you trust.

It is Inevitable, Like Taxes

The only thing in life that is absolutely certain is that you aren’t getting out of it alive. It is the height of naivete to assume otherwise, and it does no one any favors to hide one’s head in the sand in denial. We are all going to die, and that’s simply all there is to it.

Searching for truth in a world focused on belief.

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