Estate & Burial Planning Essentials

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National Free Planning Kit

January 05, 2015

Every day we have to take care of business, from running immediate errands to scheduling future appointments. Putting off the daily to-do list makes for a headache as time goes on.

Delaying estate and burial planning, by comparison, leaves behind serious legal and financial burdens for grieving loved ones.

Estate Planning Eliminates Uncertainties

Estate planning ensures that your wishes for your property, possessions and assets are fulfilled. This sounds simple enough, but the terms may be confusing. Here are some estate planning basics:

What is the difference between a will and a living will?

A will, or last will and testament, legally declares how and to whom you want to bequeath or inherit what you value upon your death. A living will, sometimes called an advance health care directive, outlines instructions for future decisions should you be declared incapable of making them. Often, this applies to the option of life support.

What is meant by power of attorney?

There are several types of power of attorney, but all refer to a person you have authorized to act on your behalf. Granting someone durable power of attorney means he or she can make decisions for you, including medical or financial, until your death.

What is a living trust?

The terms of a will are public. To maintain privacy in financial estate planning, you may choose to create a living trust instead. While you manage your assets, such as your home or stock market investments during your lifetime, the trust transfers to beneficiaries after your death. 

What should I do about my retirement account or life insurance plan?

Be sure to name beneficiaries! Whether a spouse or other loved one, you decide who receives money from any retirement accounts or life insurance plans.

Is there a way to make provision for my burial?

Yes. In fact, burial pre-planning is an important component of estate planning. Just as you would clarify your intentions in a will, you have the opportunity to take control of choices, such as direct cremation or traditional burial. It also spares your family the expense so that they truly benefit from the arrangements you plan for them.