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Five Ways to Make Life Easier for Your Loved Ones After you Pass Away

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As Idaho’s premier estate planning law firm, we have assisted our clients for more than 70 years in both the creation of their estate plans, and in completing probate proceedings or administering trusts so that distributions from an estate can be made after an individual passes away. In other words, we’ve been around awhile, and we know what we are doing.

Our team of estate planning lawyers consists of partners Randy Budge, and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys has received the highest ratings possible on several legal rating services, including Martindale and Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia. These ratings are earned based on feedback from clients, other attorneys and the judges we work with on a regular basis.

Death is one of the inevitabilities of life. We have spent decades working with different clients after a family member or loved one has passed away. During this time, we’ve seen every type and kind of circumstance there is including situations that are very difficult due to the lack of planning, and situations that were much easier because a good plan was in place. By drawing on our experiences, the purpose of this article is to describe 5 specific things that you can do to make life easier for your loved ones after you pass away.

1. Get Some Life Insurance

If you truly want to make life easier for your family and loved ones after you pass away, then you should get life insurance as part of your basic estate plan. In addition to the grief and raw emotions associated with losing a family member or loved one, most people also suffer from the confusion, worry, and anxiety associated with finances. In other words, sometimes after a family member or loved one passes away, those left behind have to figure out how to pay for housing, and food, and gas, and other basic necessities. Life insurance can change all of that.

With even a little bit of life insurance, you can create a financial cushion that can give your family and loved ones some breathing room, or time to be able to figure out how to move forward with their lives financially.

Now we want to be clear on this. We aren’t recommending that you spend thousands of dollars on life insurance. Rather, we simply suggest that unless you have other financial resources you can leave to your family members or loved ones after you pass away, you should consider getting at least some life insurance to help your family and loved ones financially after you are gone.

2. Pre-Plan Your Funeral

The second thing you can do to make things easier for your family and loved ones after you pass away is to get a pre-planned funeral. In other words, this simply means that you have prepaid for your funeral expenses and made decisions about what you truly want as part of your funeral services. We have seen countless family members and loved ones who, during the shock of dealing with the grief of their loss, try to make decisions about the funeral. In most circumstances, the family members have stated that they wish they would have had a little more time or that the process could have been completed earlier so they didn’t have to think or worry about it while they were trying to grieve.

3. Have Your Estate Planning Done

The third item on the list of things you can do to make life easier for your family members after you pass away is to have your estate-planning done. After your family grieves over your death, the next thing they will have to do is deal with your estate, which includes all of your assets, money, property, and debts. If you have no written estate plan, this makes the matter more difficult.

Our goal is to help each of our clients create an effective and well-thought-out estate plan for themselves and for their loved ones. At the very least everyone should have the basic estate planning documents which include a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care. After your death, the last will and testament is the document that will control your estate, and any distributions you make from it to your family members or loved ones.

4. Prepare a Letter of Instructions

In addition to having your estate planning done, it is also a good idea to have a final letter of instructions prepared for your family. In this letter you have an opportunity to provide your final expressions of love to each family member or loved one you have. Additionally, you can provide detailed instructions as to what your wishes are about where you are buried, whether you are buried in a casket or are cremated, and the type or kind of funeral or memorial service you either do or do not want to have.

This document is separate from your last will and testament. It has no real legal affect other than it simply allows you to declare what your final wishes are as to each of these matters. Our experience is that when a person leaves a letter of instructions their family and loved ones have a desire to carry out the wishes that are stated.

5. Have a Master Document Binder

The final thing that you can do to make life much easier for your family and loved ones after you pass away is to have a master document binder, or some other system where you have placed all of your important documents and information. The important documents and information could and should include such things as life insurance information, bank account information, credit card account information, investment account information, and information about your digital assets such as email accounts, online banking systems, social media accounts, and any other types of digital assets you may own. In other words, this is where you pull together all the information your family and loved ones will need to be able to access and disposed of everything that you normally took care of yourself while you were alive.

While this list of things that you can do to make life easier for your family and loved ones after you pass away is not exhaustive, it is a good place to start. We have answered numerous clients’ questions about these things and have helped them complete many of these things for themselves and their loved ones. We are confident that we can help you too!

ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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