Old cemeteries can be interesting places. We spent some time in D’Hanis, Texas last year. Several of my wife’s ancestors who came to Texas with those who settled with Castro in his Castroville settlements were buried there. As a family, we spent time walking through the old cemetery to read the many headstones.
Something that immediately hits you is just how young many of those buried here hundreds of years ago were when they passed. Many of whom were in their 40’s, 30’s and even 20’s. We are fortunate to live in a time when modern medicine affords us the ability to live beyond many of those that have gone before us. However, just because we have this luxury we cannot forget that we have a responsibility to those that come after us to make known our wishes and to have them carried out but to also make sure that we minimize the pain that can come from not expressly making our wishes known. You can change that! Having a complete estate plan in place has never been more important and here are some simple steps to take upon the death of a loved one.
1. Order multiple copies of the death certificate
2. Figure out of Probate is needed
3. Consider an attorney
4. Gather important documents
5. Search for the information you can’t easily find
6. Take inventory of all assets and personal property
7. Consolidate bank accounts
8. Disburse assets
The death of a family member or close friend is always difficult. For me, spending time with friends and family and putting my faith first helps me to know that no matter what happens everything will turn out okay.
I also recommend you review and update all of your beneficiaries on all financial and insurance accounts and be sure to revisit the beneficiaries you have listed on all financial accounts each and every year. I would suggest doing this at the same time as you are holding your annual meeting. This will ensure you have not forgotten to make a beneficiary designation on any new accounts opened in the last year as well as force you to review who you have listed as the beneficiary. This is important in cases where your listed beneficiary has passed away or in cases where you no longer have a relationship with the listed beneficiary. Older estate planning docs such as a Will or Power of Attorney could be floating around. Whenever you update your estate planning documents you want to make sure that you destroy any documents that came before the documents that you have just updated. It is hard to imagine but think of the possible confusion that could arise among family when one has one version of your Will and someone else has a newer or older version. Estate planning laws change from state to state so you want to keep them updated especially if a major change has taken place in your life.