Death: it’s the big elephant in the room. None of us truly wants to die, and mourning the loss of loved ones is one of life’s most difficult tasks. However much the idea scares us, it’s important that we consider what will happen when we pass. Doing so allows you to set aside some of the fear, and live life more fully knowing the things we can control are in place.
You may not want to think about death, yet you might want to consider how much mental energy you’ll free up if you don’t have to worry about:
- What your loved ones will do when you’re gone (or how they’ll “get by”)
- How to afford the costs, because YES, dying is expensive (whether it should be or not)
- Where your assets will go, and whether or not creditors and other entities will try to get a piece of the pie
Preparing for death allows us to create the best circumstances possible for the people we leave behind. The mourning may not be easier, however, you can ensure that your loved ones have less on their plate during a difficult time. Additionally, you can rest easier knowing that you’ve gained at least some control over the one “big thing” none of us truly can control.
Are you ready to prepare for “Death Day” so that you can start living?
7 Ways to Prepare for Death Day
1. Play around with a life expectancy calculator.
So maybe life expectancy calculators are not everyone’s idea of fun. However, you’ll find that there are interesting insights to glean about your life, and how long it may be. The results may surprise you…many people live longer than they think they will.
Yet, curiosity aside, there are actually compelling reasons to look at your life expectancy seriously. First and foremost, these calculators can give you a more realistic perspective on how long your retirement may be. That way, you’re not saving money arbitrary—you can create a real strategy for lasting income, as well as an inheritance to pass to your heirs.
Secondly, life expectancy projections also help you understand why you might live as long as projected. Simple lifestyle changes can often increase or decrease your longevity. In other words, you could get some clues for how to live a healthier lifestyle that you might not have otherwise considered.
A few of our favorite calculators are Living to 100 and Blue Zones. Northwestern Mutual also has a life expectancy calculator that’s good for illustrating how small changes affect your longevity.
2. Take care of your physical self.
We’re not just talking about your living self, though certain lifestyle habits may improve your longevity. No, what we mean is that it’s important to also have a plan for what happens to your body when you pass. Without a strategy, come to Death Day, your family can bear the burden.
Grief is a tricky beast, and many family members can feel compelled to spend more money on funerals than may be necessary. Funeral homes may not help your family navigate this grief any better. If you know what you want for your funeral, you can make the arrangements now to spare your family the cost and the emotional burden of the process.
First things first, how do you want to go—cremation, casket, or something different? There are several companies that will put your ashes in a biodegradable urn so that you can grow as a tree. You can even donate your body to science.
You may be able to pay for some of these things now, eliminating future expenses for your family. It’s also easier to make these decisions with a clear head, not in the midst of grief. And of course, to ensure things go as you intend, it’s important to have legal documentation of your desires.
3. Have a will, and maybe some Trusts, in place.
It’s never too early to start Estate Planning. We personally recommend the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys. NNEPA can help you write your will and establish trusts so that your assets go exactly where you want them to go.
If working with an attorney isn’t feasible for you right now, don’t worry! You can create a simple will using an online tool like Free Will. If you have life insurance, the beneficiaries of your policy trump your will. So beyond keeping your beneficiaries updated in your policy, utilize your will for other details like who will receive your wedding ring, how you want your funeral, etc.
4. Use Protect myPlans.
It wasn’t long ago that a personal computer was a novelty. Now, we couldn’t fathom being without a smartphone on our person at all times. With the rise of technology in our personal lives comes the fact that our assets are almost entirely digital now.
Digital assets include passwords and account information for everything you can think of: banking access, financial apps, your crypto wallet, NFTs, email accounts, business accounts, and much more. Even with a password management tool, your heirs can get locked out of your accounts without the right digital asset protection.
Furthermore, many social media platforms also become impossible to shut down after death without express permission. Without this permission and/or access, platforms will mark the deceased’s profile as “memorialized.” While a nice thought, this can actually leave the deceased vulnerable to identity thieves.
There are many compelling and important reasons to use digital asset protection. Using Protect myPlans ensures that none of your information gets locked away from your beneficiaries so that your legacy can continue uninterrupted.
5. Sign up for Five Wishes.
Want a contingency strategy for your care, should you be unable to care for yourself? Ensure that your wishes for care are followed by signing up for Five Wishes. That way, when you’re at your most vulnerable, you can still have agency and control over your life.
While this type of program isn’t specifically for death, it’s an important piece of the puzzle in case of disability or health complications.
6. Ponder your legacy.
While this tip is rather abstract, it is also one of the more philosophically prudent. Identifying the philosophical components of your legacy can help family members be more on board with your wishes upon death–and ensure that your legacy is more than the money you leave behind.
Keeping a record of your personal values, your mission statement, and the rules of engagement for your monetary legacy can make sure that your beneficiaries are aligned with you. When working with an estate planning attorney, you can even work this philosophy into your Trust, so that your beneficiaries have some ground rules to access the funds.
We’ve seen families request that beneficiaries use legacy money to further education, start a business, or pursue a passion. This helps younger heirs especially from becoming entitled. In our new book, Perpetual Wealth, we go into detail about creating this kind of family philosophy and legacy.
7. Have a life insurance policy.
Finally, it’s important to have life insurance in place, so that you can leave the biggest legacy possible to your loved ones. While we love to talk about the living benefits of whole life insurance, it’s also important that we recognize how it affects Death Day.
With life insurance, you can pass on a tax-free death benefit that can replace your income and help your family make a huge life transition without you.
We recommend whole life insurance because of its living benefits (like a cash value savings component), however, there’s another type of insurance that is a good option for young adults: convertible term insurance. Convertible term insurance has the benefit of being inexpensive, with the added option for conversion to whole life insurance. This means that you can secure insurance while you’re young and in good health while being able to keep costs down until you’re able to convert.
Preparing for “Death Day” Doesn’t Have to Be a Drag
We get it, no one wants to think about their death. However, taking a few hours to get things in order can free you up to live without worry or regrets. By having a strategy for every little detail, you won’t have to have that fear in the back of your mind.
Do yourself a favor and get your affairs in order so that you can live life to the fullest, knowing that your loved ones will be cared for and your assets won’t be lost to “the void.” If you have questions or would like to get in touch with a Prosperity Economics Advisor, we encourage you to contact us. https://prosperityeconomics.org/contact/