When people think of a bucket list, they tend to think of exotic locations, once-in-a-lifetime events and personal achievement. But have you considered that there are plenty of practical things you can do before you die to put your mind at rest and help your family cope when the time comes?
Here are five practical bucket list ideas that will give your loved ones financial support after you’re gone and make things as easy as possible when they’re coping with grief.
Write a will
Writing a will is an essential part of getting your affairs in order. Sadly, if you die without a valid will, your estate might not be shared out in the way that you want. A will also lets you nominate guardians for any dependent children, as well as bequeath specific possessions or amounts of money to certain people. Anyone can write a will, although you have to be aged 18 of over to do so in most U.S. states.
You can also name the executor (or executors) of your estate in your will. This is an important decision. You should choose someone you trust to be responsible and well-organized. Depending on how complex your estate is, you may want to hire an attorney to make sure everything is taken care of. The will must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses, and then signed by those witnesses.
Consider life insurance
Life insurance policies are designed to provide your family with financial support after you die. The money your family receives when the policy pays out can be used for anything your family needs.
It’s important to shop around before committing to a life insurance policy. There are different types of cover, such as ‘term’, which pays out if you die during a set period, and ‘whole life’, which lasts for your entire lifetime.
Be sure when you are applying for life insurance that you provide the most up-to-date medical information. Anything that you forget to tell the insurer may invalidate your cover if they deem it was a contributing factor to your death.
Make an advance health care directive
Also known as an advance directive, this kind of legal document outlines how you want to be cared for in your final days. This means that if you lose the ability to communicate your wishes yourself, the medical professionals caring for you will know what course to take.
In your advance directive you can decide what kinds of treatment you would and wouldn’t want. For example, do you want to be put on a ventilator? Would you refuse a blood transfusion? It also allows you to choose a health care proxy – a trusted loved one who will make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
To make an advance directive you must complete the relevant forms, which can differ from state to state. Most state governments have advance directive forms available to download on their websites, where you can also find more information.
Plan your funeral
Organizing a funeral can be a stressful process for the bereaved at what is an already difficult time. You can take away some of the uncertainty by making sure your loved ones know what kind of funeral service you would want.
Do you want to be buried or cremated? A religious or non-religious service? Should it be somber and serious, or a celebration of life? Answering basic questions like this can reassure your loved ones that they are doing what you would have wanted, when the time comes. Why not write down your funeral wishes and keep them in a safe place?
Think about your digital legacy
If you use the internet, the chances are you have a whole host of usernames and passwords just stowed away in your mind. Whether it’s your Facebook account or Amazon log-in details, your digital assets are more important than you might realize.
Whether they want to shut down your social media or cancel an online subscription, it can be difficult, or sometimes impossible, for families to cancel online accounts after a loved one dies, if they don’t know their passwords.
You can use password management software, such as KeePass or LastPass to keep all your passwords in one place. Alternatively, you could write down all your important digital assets and keep the list with your will for when the time comes.
Find out more about managing an estate so you can plan ahead.