Death Facebook Twitter Instagram Social Media Passwords

Death and Social Media Passwords
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

What is Your Digital Legacy Plan?

Most people plan to document their final wishes in a last will and testament but not many consider including instructions on what should happen to their Facebook page when they die. With over 1.9 billion users on Facebook, over 300 million on Twitter, and who knows how many on other online sites, having a digital legacy plan is becoming more important than ever in these modern times.

Where do you Start?

It’s difficult enough trying to remember login passwords, so creating a detailed plan for all your email and social media accounts can seem like a daunting task. Still, it’s best to start planning sooner rather than later, and some of the media apps already have documented plans for dealing with accounts of the deceased. Here’s how Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handle it:

What happens to my Facebook page when I die?

Facebook is the most popular networking app in the world and they offer two options for your profile after your death:

1. Memorialization – your profile can be memorialized to serve as a gathering place for family and friends to post memories and remembrances. You can choose to memorialize your page in advance by selecting a “legacy contact” to administer the account after your passing. The legacy contact (who needs to be a Facebook friend) will be responsible for managing the account, e.g., updating profile pictures or responding to friend requests. However, they have limited capabilities and cannot read your private messages or gain full access to your profile.

2. Permanent deletion – this option can also be requested in advance. Once your account is permanently deleted, it will no longer be seen on Facebook and cannot be reactivated. You’ll still need to select a legacy contact for this, but the person won’t be able to log into your account or make posts/updates.

Note that only verified immediate family members can ask Facebook to remove a loved one’s account, and they must provide either a valid death certificate or proof of authority and proof of their loved one’s passing in order to get the account deactivated.

What happens to my Twitter profile when I die?

Twitter’s policy states that they can only deactivate a dead person’s account based on a request from a verified family member or estate executor. After the deactivation request is received, Twitter ensures validity by obtaining details such as the death certificate, obituary information, and requester identification. Only then will the deceased’s account be removed from the site.

Twitter also states they are unable to provide account access to anyone other than the account owner, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. So without the necessary proof of death, vital statistics, and no memorialization options, a dead person’s Twitter account is often left as is, which can sometimes lead to unfortunate tweets from beyond.

What happens to my Instagram account when I die?

Instagram is owned by Facebook so they also offer account removal or memorialization based on a valid request from an immediate family member. The requester must fill out a form to get the process started and provide proof of death (death certificate, obituary notice) as well as evidence that they are related to the deceased. Unlike their parent company, Instagram does not allow you to choose removal or memorialization in advance, and they do not provide account access or login details for a memorialized account.

Creating a Digital Legacy Plan

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram comprise only a small share of an average person’s digital legacy. Other digital assets include various online accounts such as:

  • Email
  • Personal & business websites
  • Social media profiles (LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Snapchat)
  • Communication apps (Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime)
  • Gaming (Xbox, Wii, PlayStation)
  • Financial service sites (banking, trading, retirement)
  • Shopping sites (Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, brand stores)
  • Entertainment accounts (Netflix, Hulu, cable tv)
  • Other apps & accounts (Uber, Airbnb, Expedia, PayPal, etc.)

The list can go on forever depending on how extensive your digital footprint is. That’s why it’s important to make a digital legacy plan and select a “digital executor” to manage, protect, and preserve your online assets. Getting started on the planning process early is the only way to ensure all your accounts are handled properly in accordance with your end of life plans and preferences.

Choose a digital executor who is technically savvy and sensitive to the confidential details of your digital estate. Whoever you select will need to be aware of state laws governing access to a person’s digital assets.

The Revised Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, completed by the Uniform Law Commission and currently enacted in 35 states, allows fiduciaries or executors to manage digital property like computer files, web domains, and virtual currency. However, the Act restricts access to electronic communications such as email, text messages, and social media accounts unless the original user consented in a will, living trust, power of attorney, or other record. If you already have a will, you can add your digital legacy plan to your will to ensure legality.

Creating a digital legacy plan to manage your online assets is just as important as having a will to protect your physical assets when you die, so make sure to include one in your end of life decision-making process. It will give you and your family much-needed peace of mind when the time comes.

Contributed by Christine Gatuiria at FuneralContentCreative. She writes and creates engaging content for the funeral and death care industry.

Protect Your Family Against Grave Robbers

Grave Robbers

Protect Your Family Against Grave Robbers

It’s no surprise that identity thieves are running rampant, however it’s a shocking fact that these scammers are using the personal information and vital statistics of more than 2,000 deceased people every day. An ID Analytics study recently revealed that the misuse of social security numbers belonging to the deceased occurs more than 1.5 million times every year. Are the identities of your deceased loved ones protected from these identity thieves?

Protect Identity Today

In the same way people provide protection for their families using funeral insurance to cover funeral costs and burial expenses and replace lost income after a death, many people today are also taking additional steps to ensure their loved ones left behind aren’t abused by scam artists.

Be proactive to protect your family. Take the proper steps to provide protection against identity theft while you are alive. Enroll in a service like LifeLock.com to monitor credit reports and inquiries, applications for utility and wireless service, and many other aspects of personal information to reduce the risk of exposure. Monitor your online bank activities, guard your social security number and private information, and keep your digital devices protected with reliable security software to deter fraudsters from gathering your personal data and vital statistics.

Make Final Preparations

Coping with the loss of a loved one is emotionally and physically challenging for most people, and on top of the grief, it often takes weeks, or even months, to notify creditors and vendors after someone dies. Unfortunately, scammers and identity thieves get started immediately after they see perform an obituary search or read a newspaper report that announces a death.

Assign a friend or relative to take charge of reporting your death immediately. Or consider hiring a funeral estate planning attorney to handle all notifications. Recommendations from AARP.com include contacting the Social Security Administration (1-800-772-1213), sending death certificates to the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—and asking financial institutions and creditors to mark accounts closed due to death. The IRS should also be notified as soon as possible to prevent fraudsters from filing for a tax refund with the deceased person’s information or claiming the deceased as a dependent on future returns.

Block the Channels

The best time to consider identity theft is before it happens. Make sure you create a love drawer with a list of everyone—businesses, government agencies and individuals who have access now, or might have acquired your information in the past. Include medical providers, lawyers, the IRS, the Social Security Administration, banks, creditors and even your landscape and pest control contractors.

Prepare a simple form letter that informs recipients of your death in advance. Assign someone to mail these letters, preferably by certified mail, immediately after your death. Ask your designated helper to cancel your voter registration card, drivers license and online social media accounts (learn more about digital estate planning).

Work With the Credit Bureaus

The credit reporting agency Experian advises that credit bureaus periodically update records with information received from the Social Security Administration to flag files when people pass away. It could take up to six months for the information to be transferred so, having someone designated to report the death is preferable to waiting for agency notification. To protect against fraud, survivors should request credit reports every few months after a loved one passes to be sure no one is trying to assume the deceased identity.

 

Death of a Loved One Funeral Planning Checklist

Plan a Funeral

Death of a Loved One Checklist

Checklist to Help Families Get Through a Difficult Time

Losing a loved one is arguably one of the most difficult experiences in life.  In addition to coping with the grief and loss, there are also a variety of challenging tasks and important financial decisions to be completed, some of which include:

– Making final arrangements

– Reviewing funeral costs and funding options

– Settling an individual’s estate and heirlooms

– Notifying family, friends and co-workers

– Working with various companies and government agencies

– Providing important vital statistics for insurance claims and death certificates

– Securing the financial security of the remaining spouse

Time-Sensitive Tasks

Contact all close family members, friends, co-workers and clergy first.  This is not only important to notify them of this loss, but because you will need their help with funeral planning and emotional support.

Begin working with the family and loved ones to arrange the funeral, burial or cremation and memorial services Since everyone knows that death is a guaranteed event, my hope is that financial professionals have properly planned and prepared their clients and prospective clients in most of these End of Life arrangements ahead of time.

Review all of the important paperwork and documents to identify any instruction containing their final wishes. In most cases, these key End of Life and estate planning instructions can be found in his or her Last Will, Living Trust, or other estate planning preparations.

Notify family, friends, co-workers and loved ones of the final arrangements.  These final arrangement notifications should include details such as cultural and religious rituals, funeral etiquette details, and funeral flowers or donation preferences.

Notify the decedent’s place of work, professional organizations, unions, associations, military branch, and any other organizations where he or she may have been a member or volunteer.

Recommend that each of the decedent’s loved ones notify their own personal employer and arrange for bereavement leave.

Make sure that an obituary is created in your local newspaper as well as on the Internet.

Promptly begin obtaining certified copies of the death certificate. In most cases the family doctor or medical examiner provides a death certificate within 24 hours of the death. The next step is for the Funeral Home and/or Funeral Director to complete the form and file it with the state. Note: Be sure to request and obtain many original copies, since photocopies are not always accepted. These death certificates become important for tasks such as applying for benefits and settling an estate.

Be sure to review all financial affairs, particularly focusing on estate planning documents such as a Last Will or Living Trust, deeds and titles, marriage certificates, birth and adoption certificates, military paperwork and other relevant documents.

If applicable, locate and contact the decedent’s estate planning attorney for all copies of estate planning documents, particularly the originals.

Contact the decedent’s local bank to verify if they had a safe-deposit box.  Note: If the decedent did not leave behind instructions or details regarding who is authorized to open their safe deposit box, you can petition the probate court for an order to open.

Contact the Social Security Administration to report the death.  Also note:

– If your loved one was receiving any benefits via direct deposit, request that the bank return funds received for the month of death — and thereafter to Social Security as well.

– Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail. Return all checks to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.

– Surviving spouses and other family members may be eligible for a lump-sum death benefit and/or survivor’s benefits. You can visit www.ssa.gov for more information.

Prepare a comprehensive list of all of the decedent’s assets.

If applicable, be sure to put safeguards in place to protect any key property.

Make sure any mortgage payments and insurance premiums continue to be paid while the estate is being settled.

Regarding the decedent’s place of work, be sure to:

– Request to receive their belongings.

– Inquire about collecting any salary, vacation or sick pay owed.

– Ask about continuing health insurance coverage and potential survivor’s benefits for their spouse and/or children.

– Review all employer, union, or association death benefits details.  Be aware of the fact that if the death was work-related, the decedent’s estate or beneficiaries may be entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Contact the decedent’s past employers regarding any pension plans, survivor benefits, as well as any other forms of defined benefit or defined contribution retirement savings plans.

If the decedent was a military veteran, inquire about any potential eligibility for burial and memorial benefits. This can be accomplished by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs by either calling (800) 827-1000 or visiting their website www.va.gov.

Contact any IRA custodians, trustees, and guardians. Be sure to review and confirm all of the IRA beneficiary designations, as well as understand all of the IRA distribution options.

Locate and review all life and funeral insurance policies, which could include individual insurance, group life insurance, mortgage insurance, auto credit life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, credit card insurance and annuities.

Contact each insurance company to find out the necessary procedures and documents needed to file claims.

Promptly contact all credit card companies to notify them of the death and, assuming there are no other names associated, cancel all credit cards.

Retitle all jointly held assets such as bank accounts, automobiles, stocks and bonds and real estate into the surviving parties’ name.  If the decedent was an owner, principal, or had a controlling interest in a business, review all corporate documents and details. Be sure to check to see if there are any additional business agreements such as a buy-sell agreements, split-dollar agreement, etc.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 Months:

If the decedent created a Last Will or Living Trust, be sure to file these documents with the appropriate probate court. If there was any real estate owned out of his or her state of domicile, be sure to file ancillary probate in that state also.

If the decedent did not leave behind a Last Will or Living Trust, contact the probate ask the court or a probate attorney for instructions and assistance.

With regards to any of the decedent’s creditors, be sure to notify them by mail as well as by placing a notice in the local newspaper.  Any debtor’s claims must be made within the statute of limitations.  Although this varies from state to state, the standard time is usually 30 days from actual notice. Once a claim has been made, be sure to insist upon proof of all claims.

With regards to estate taxes, you may be required to file a federal estate tax return within 9 months of the date of death. Due to the fact that state laws vary, there is the possibility that state estate tax and/or inheritance tax returns may need to be filed.  Federal and state income taxes are due for the year of death on the normal filing date, unless an extension is requested. Should there be any existing Trusts in place at the date of death, a separate income tax return may need to be filed. It is highly recommended that all financial professionals and their families seek the advice of seasoned tax and estate planning professionals.

Tasks to Be Completed Within 9 to 12 Months

One of the most important tasks, which can often be overlooked or postponed, is to update your own estate plan — or your client or prospective client’s estate plan — if someone was a beneficiary or appointed as an agent, trustee or guardian.

Along the same lines, it is also extremely important to revise and update all beneficiary designations on the decedent’s or surviving parties retirement plans. This includes accounts such as IRAs, Transfer-on-Death (TOD) or Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts, pension plans, life insurance policies, annuities and any other accounts on which the decedent was named as a beneficiary.

Review the impact of the “big picture” financial situation, which includes changes in the household income, expenses, budget, as well as short and long-term goals and objectives.

Review the families insurance needs, including the insurance amounts, types, beneficiary designations and most importantly, any needs for insurance.

Reevaluate whether or not the existing investment options still make sense. This includes reviewing details such as existing asset allocation, goals and objectives, risk tolerances, income and estate taxes, income distribution and legacy planning.

Other Key Considerations

Although this is a matter that most families and loved ones wish to complete and have behind them, take your time and do not try to rush the settlement of a loved one’s estate. When it comes to estate planning and distribution, there are many important decisions that must be made in compliance with the Last Will or Living Trust and applicable state and federal laws. This is exactly why it is so important to seek the help and advice of an experienced estate planning attorney.

If your client, prospective client or loved one did not leave behind any End of Life plan with regards to their final plans and preferences, you can visit www.funeralresources.com and www.memorialtechnology.com. These are family-focused resource centers that contains the large majority of information most families seek help for when it comes to funerals, burials, memorial services, End of Life Planning and much more.

Christopher P. Hill, Founder

Digital Death Online and Digitial Estate Planning

Digital Death and Estate Planning

What Happens Online When You Die?

While it’s a scary thought, the thought usually passes quickly, possibly accompanied with a new status update and a quick image change. However, there are a lot of people who have given the issue of digital death a lot more thought.  This is particularly true given today’s new and innovative funeral and memorial services technology options.

Leading technologists around the world are grappling with the possibilities of what will happen to our online selves when we die. Currently there are no uniform policies across social media and online profiling sites regarding what happens when one of their users dies. As a result this raises questions about:

Privacy. Do you want anyone else accessing your Facebook or Twitter profiles and going through your emails after you’ve died? What about digital assets which are jointly held?

Access. Are you leaving behind the login details and passwords needed for a friend or family member to deactivate your accounts? Should the sites themselves automatically grant access to a deceased profile if a family member wants to close the account?

Legacy. Do you want your online self to remain ‘live’ as a legacy? Do you want friends and family to continue posting in your name? How do you want to preserve your digital estate planning online interactions, and how will that data stay relevant as file formats and technology change and develop?

Digital Death Day

While there may not be a holistic approach to what happens online when you die, there are a number of unique initiatives raising awareness and trialling new ideas and systems to make digital death easier to manage. For example, when the Digital Death Day conferences were held in North America in May 2011 this was the third time that attorneys, entrepreneurs, funeral directors, estate planners, researchers, archivists and leading thinkers gathered to have the conversation about the issues of family, privacy, digital property rights and the archiving and curating of data for anthropologists and future generations.

Digital Death Day calls itself an ‘unconference’ where all of the attendees work closely together to explore options for dealing with online profiles after death. Everyone is able to contribute and the first morning is spent creating a multi-track agenda from the feedback of all attendees, which makes for vibrant and relevant content. Digital Death Day explores the fact that while death is a part of life, what does that mean when most people’s end of life planning become largely digital?

Digital Death Resources

The conversation about what happens online when you die is of course taking place online too with blogs such as Death and Digital Legacy http://www.deathanddigitallegacy.com which covers topics such as how to download data from a deceased Facebook profile, how to make sure your online storage of posts, photos and files are really preserved electronically and whether you’d want your family to notify your friends of your death using your own Facebook profile.

John Romano and Evan Carroll have even written a book called Your Digital Afterlife http://www.yourdigitalafterlife.com which compares the legacy of photo albums, diaries and video tapes left behind by our grandparents, to the plethora of thoughts, feelings, images and memories we leave behind online. Your Digital Afterlife also discusses the issues surrounding passwords and who really owns your online content, as well as how that content can be preserved as file formats change.

Adam Ostrow takes the preservation of our online selves a step further in his speech at a TED conference http://www.thedigitalbeyond.com/2011/08/digital-legacy-presented-at-ted-global-2011.  Ostrow’s speech titled After Your Final Status Update asks whether we could, or should, be putting our online profiles in the hands of evolving technology in order to live on – there are already programs which can predict your next tweet based on your past posts, so why not upload the collective of your online interactions into a robot, or project your personality as a hologram to go on interacting with your family and friends after you die?

Digital Death Used to Save Lives

The conversation around digital death is also being used to stop unnecessary deaths from HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. The Digital Death Campaign to Keep a Child Alive began on World AIDS Day, 1 December, with the world’s most followed celebrities sacrificing their digital selves. This means that the celebrities’ Facebook and Twitter profiles go silent until a donation of $1,000,000 is reached to bring their online selves back to life. Plus, you can sacrifice your own digital life and encourage your friends and family to donate to the Keep a Child Alive campaign, and bring you back to life online.

Three Facebook Users Die Every Minute

At this rate that means that there will be 1.78 million Facebook accounts in limbo in 2011 because those users hadn’t prepared for their digital death. That’s the equivalent of the population of Western Australia, and as users and status updates continue to grow exponentially, how many deceased pages will there be in 10 years, how will Facebook and the probably non-tech savvy families of these people manage this amount of digital content?

In 2011 there are over 500 million people on Facebook and that number is expected to double by the end of the year to 1 billion users. As you think about those numbers, consider the fact that around 1 billion pieces of information are shared on Facebook every day. That is a staggering amount of information that we all felt compelled to share, so if it was important enough to post, isn’t it important enough to preserve?

However, despite digital content growing so rapidly, there are no plans for a way to manage, archive and remove our digital content when we die. For example, if you die and your friends or family want to close down your Facebook account they have to fill out a form and provide a link to your obituary search. If a copy of a key vital statistics such as a Death Certificate is sent to MySpace or eBay the account will be closed however, closing one of the 20 million eHarmony accounts can only be done by using a Last Will, Living Trust, and power of attorney who even then can’t gain access to the account.

There are 100 million tweets being posted each day from the 175 million users, and Twitter will allow a family member to save a copy of your tweets if you die, but no one else will be given access to your account.

Leave a Digital Legacy?  Or Have Your Digital Self Euthanized?

While you are alive you have absolute control over your online profiles and this is one of the main attractions of the medium – the fact that you can share your thoughts, your feelings, your questions and your experiences freely, with whomever you choose. As a result you are creating a rich database of yourself and your life experiences and isn’t that exactly why we put photos in photo albums, create a video tribute, keep diaries, have children and grow businesses – so we can leave something behind to be remembered by? So would you want to live on through your online self or would you rather leave the physical and the digital plane all together?

Digital Privacy

While most social media and online accounts have a policy to dictate what happens to your account when you die, there is still an overarching policy to protect your privacy when you are gone. For example, do you want your parents reading your Facebook status updates or do you want your partner reading through your private emails? Take a second to think about the contents of your inbox or the photos on your Facebook page – what digital dirty laundry would you be leaving behind if you died? However, it’s not only your own privacy that you should be protecting when you die, consider what would happen to the private messages stored in your Facebook or Twitter accounts, or emails which contain private information about friends, family, clients or colleagues. When you die, once private information is no longer bound by the terms and conditions of your friendship, but by the terms and conditions of your email provider or social network.

The various deceased policies of social media sites you may use include:

Twitter. Family and friends can notify Twitter of your death and your account will be removed. Family members can also save a backup of all of your public tweets. Twitter simply needs the name and contact details of the family or friend deactivating the deceased account and their relationship to the deceased, the username of the deceased Twitter account or a link to the profile page, and a link to a public obituary or news article. Twitter has the specific privacy@twitter.com email address for this process.

Facebook. Facebook has a feature where you can download all of your photos, videos, wall posts, notes, messages, events and friends which can be great for your records, as well as help your family manage your account after your death. Your family will need to know your username and password to access your account and archive the information and deactivate your account. However, even when a Facebook account has been deactivated, Facebook itself retains a copy of all information and there is currently no way to permanently delete a profile. Or family or friends can also complete a form and provide a link to an obituary to confirm your death and your profile will be officially memorialized. This means you won’t show up in Facebook suggestions and status updates won’t show up in the news feeds but your profile will remain as an online memorial technology.

MySpace. If MySpace are sent proof of death they will cancel a deceased user’s account.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn will also close your account if they receive confirmation of your death.

YouTube. YouTube allows your heir or power of attorney control of your account and all of the content.

Google + and Gmail. Google will provide account information to family members at their discretion.

Yahoo and Flickr. Yahoo owns Flickr and as a result both sites have a strict digital death policy, that once they receive a copy of your death certificate they will permanently delete all of your accounts and their contents so that no one but you can access them.

Hotmail. Hotmail will send a copy of all email messages which are stored on the account and the current contacts list to help your family notify your contacts of your death. Hotmail will then close the account on request.

eBay. Your family will need to fax a copy of your death certificate to eBay to close an account and all customer details are then deleted from the eBay database. eBay may also need to call to verify the account information.

PayPal. PayPal will need to view a death certificate before closing an account, and if there is money in the account a cheque will be issued in the name of the account holder.

Match.com. Match.com will block the account of a user who has died so that it is no longer visible on the site and your power of attorney will need to contact Match.com to retrieve account information.

eHarmony.com. Your eHarmony account will remain open until a family member or power of attorney contacts the site. Even then no third party will be allowed to access your account and eHarmony will close the account.

 

FREE End of Life Planning Guides

End of Life Guides

Creating a Love Drawer

Many financial professionals believe that life insurance should be referred to as “love insurance”. As cliché as this may sound, it certainly has a tremendous amount of merit. What better gift is there to give your family and loved ones upon your death than a large sum of money to be used for such things as income replacement, college tuition, retirement, taxes or estate taxes, charitable gifts, and much more? And if you really think about it, the last thing you would want to add to your family at the time of their emotional loss and grieving is financial pressure.

Watch this brief 2-minute video on why a “Love Drawer” is so important:

Most of us would agree, including financial professionals, that life insurance plays an large role in creating a sound comprehensive financial plan. So in keeping with this theme of love, here is an even better idea. How about also adding another layer of love towards your end of life plan – with a love drawer.

What Exactly Is a “Love Drawer”?

Simply put, a love drawer is a place where the person (or people) you choose can turn to, should you pass unexpectedly, to find all of your important information. This includes complete and instructions for all of the aspects of your life including things like your last wishes, financial affairs, special instructions, personal messages, and even your end-of-life plans and preferences.

What Key Information Should be Kept in This “Love Drawer”?

Below you will find a list of most (but certainly not all) of your personal and money matters that should be needed and addressed:

1. The firm name, address, and phone number of your Estate Planning Attorney
2. Your actual Last Will or Living Trust
3.  Insurance Information
4.  IRA’s and Life Insurance Information
5.  Investment Information
6.  Employer Information
7.  Social Security Statements
8.  Debts and Corresponding Contact Information
9.  Deeds or Titles
10.  Burial Wishes
11.  Love Notes
12. Any Other Important Documents and Vital Statistics

A Few Other Ideas – Our recommendation is that you tell at least three people who you love and trust where they can find this love drawer. These people can be anyone such as your spouse, parent, child, friend, or even your financial advisor or attorney. In addition, even though it may seem obvious, I would ask them to please respect your privacy and never open this drawer until it is absolutely necessary. These entrusted loved ones will be the ones who help ensure that someone will be there to step up promptly and act upon the details and instructions you have carefully assembled in your love drawer.

We encourage you to update this love drawer at least every two years. One of the few things we can guarantee in life is that things will change. Given the fact that we have many things in our lives that are constantly changing like taxes, estate taxes, family, age, health, wealth, our final wishes, etc., we should regularly review and revise this love drawer. These updates help to reflect any financial or personal matters that should be added, revised, or removed.

Receive our Free Guide – How to Create a Love Drawer

By |July 6th, 2010|Categories: end of life, vital statistics|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on FREE End of Life Planning Guides

Your End of Life Plan is the Gift of a Lifetime

End of Life Plan

Creating an End of Life Plan…

And Leaving the Gift of a Lifetime!

Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in America who is speaking about one of the most important plans you can create, an End of Life Plan. The harsh reality is that very few individuals, families, or even financial professionals are regularly teaching, practicing, or implementing End of Life Plans.

Nothing Good Comes Easy

Why is that that more than 80% of people in America die without leaving behind their End of Life Plan and preferences?  I believe it is because these are the only types of plans that directly addresses death and dying.  Therefore, most people would prefer to overlook or ignore this type of conversation.  The problem is that, in doing so, you are leaving these matters to your spouse, children, and/or family members – to pile on top of what is already one of the most difficult times of their lives.

The fact of the matter is that an End of Life Plan should be a standard and routine part of a comprehensive financial  or retirement plan.  Period.  It is the missing piece to the financial services puzzle that needs to be fixed.

Fact:  Some Day You Will Die

Sure, the last thing any of us want to do is talk or think about is how to plan a funeral. And this is not just “a funeral”, but rather your own personal funeral.  So I get it.  I fully understand why an End of Life Plan is not such an easy and comfortable discussion.  However, some day every single one of us will die (hopefully later versus sooner), but we will die.  So this means that “someone” is going to be forced to deal with planning your End of Life Plan and preferences.

So ask yourself this question; “Would you rather take care of your final arrangements yourself, or leave it to your loved ones who are already suffering from the grief and loss of your death compounding insult to injury?”

We all know for a fact, with absolute certainty, that we are all going to die some day, right?  So why is it that most people are not talking about this?  Why are financial planners not learning the best ways to plan their clients and families for their inevitable death?  Why is it that, at the very least, everyone is not taking a few minutes to simply document their End of Life Plans and preferences for our loved ones?

 

Financial Planners Should Encourage an End of Life Plan

In addition to being the Founder of this website, I have worked as financial planner for over 23 years and currently own my own Wealth Management practice.

I mention this because, for the most part, the financial planning industry overlooks and ignores End of Life Plans, Pre Need Plans, and Final Expense Plans.  These plans are not widely-recognized as an all-important additions to a comprehensive financial and retirement plan.

To prove this point, here is a fact:  Prior to losing a loved one and experiencing how to plan a funeral myself, I had never heard some talked about this subject.  This includes all of my 20+ years of studying, training, attending classes, getting licenses and certifications, and more.

How About You and Your Financial Plan?

Has your financial planner discussed this with you? Does your financial plan include your End of Life Plans and preferences?  Are these details documented and written down in a safe place?  Do you currently have a plan in place for your pre-arranged funeral or cemetery arrangements?  Have you created a plan to specifically designate which monies will prepay funeral expenses and funeral costs?  Do the people you love know what you really want?  Have you notified them regarding the fact that you have taken care of these End of Life Plan details?  Do they know where these plans and details are located?

You are Not Alone

If you do not currently have an End of Life Plan in place, you are not alone.  Given my personal experience, I can tell you that losing my mother was, by far, the toughest day of my life. And like our situation, here is what happens in most cases.  Just about the time when it starts to “sink in” that your loved one is really gone, and your emotions begin to elevate, all of a sudden you find yourself sitting in a Funeral Home or Cemetery, reviewing all of their funeral home services and planning a funeral.  This is probably the last thing anyone wants to be doing during a difficult time like this. 

Just Some of the Funeral Planning Challenges

• How do you transport the body?  Where do you transport it?  How soon?
• What vital statistics do we need to gather, and how soon?
• How soon afterwards should the funeral and/or memorial service be?
• How do you determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
• What if the deceased lives out of town?
• Sitting down with a Funeral Director to review all the details and options
• Try to figure out what your loved one “would have wanted”
• Making some incredibly difficult financial decisions
• Trying to figure out what type of memorial service your loved one “would have wanted”
• Did they want to be cremation or traditional burial?
• Choosing among many different types of caskets or cremation urns
• Where should the final resting place of their body or ashes be?
• How do you coordinate this with your religion/Church?
• Who should be invited, and how do you invite them?
• Arranging travel and accommodation plans for out-of-town guests
• Who will give the funeral eulogyHow to give a eulogy?
• How will this be paid for?  Were there any burial insurance or funeral insurance policies?
• Who will speak at the memorial services? Which songs and prayers do you use?
• Do you have a gathering afterwards?
• How do you place an obituary? Who does this?
• Do you want funeral flowers or donations?
• Arranging funeral programs, sending “thank you” cards, and much more…

End of Life Plans Save Money

Another huge benefit to creating an End of Life Plan is that, in addition to saving your family from going through emotional challenges and making difficult decisions, you could very likely save your family thousands – or even millions – of dollars. The reason why is when someone dies, there are many financial matters that accompany the funeral planning such as funeral estate planning, estate taxes, death taxes, capital gains taxes, income taxes, insurance policy proceeds, investments, real estate, bank accounts, mortgages, other debts, and much more.

Plan Now – Don’t Wait!

A wise man once said, “The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the amount of time and preparation put into preparing for the future.”  By creating a solid End of Life Plan – and then adding this as a part of a sound and comprehensive financial plan – nothing could be further from the truth!

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com