Death detail planning can be done at any stage of life, and the necessities for this part of the planning will change, as your life changes. Thus, dependents that need to be taken care of in the event of your passing will vary.
What does not vary is that the dependents will need someone to step in immediately after your death to ensure that care for your loved ones continues without a gap.
You will need to discuss and plan with your lawyer to ensure that funds are available after your death to continue to provide for these dependents, including, but not limited to:
All of this will need to continue as seamlessly as possible at your death. And needs to be handled with a great deal of compassion, patience, and love.
In the event that you and your spouse die simultaneously, or you are a single parent, your minor children will need to go to a warm and loving caregiver. If your parents are still alive, it may be them. Or it may be one of their godparents or one of your siblings.
This decision is probably the most important of all. Prior to establishing these instructions as part of any legal document:
Their teachers and/or other caregivers will also need to be notified of your passing, as the children will be out of school, and will not be following their normal schedules. In your end of life document, please include:
The children will need to resume their normal schedules at some point. Ensure that you document their activities as completely as possible:
The more information and details you can document, the more seamless the transition for both your children and those who will be taking care of them.
For these children, adhering to routine is even more crucial. In addition to all the information above, please ensure that you leave information on:
At the time of your death, the guardian will need to reach out to the therapist or social worker to plan on the best way to explain your passing to this child and design a plan to help him/her adjust.
The baby boomers have become known as the "sandwich" generation, as not only do we have responsibility for our children, but as we age, many of us are responsible for our parents, or other elderly family members. You will need to leave instructions for their care after you depart, as much as you would for both minor children and dependent adult children.
Quite often, their care may be assumed by other family members. Please do not make ANY assumptions about this. Discuss this with your family and confirm that an agreement has been reached as to the responsible person upon your demise, just as you would for minor or adult dependent children.
If you care for them in your home, in addition to all of the points above, you will need to leave instructions for:
If they currently are cared for in an outside facility, you will need to go through the same process of agreeing responsibility for their well-being after your death.
It is also critical that arrangements be made to cover the costs of this facility - either from your estate, a trust, or another family member. Please be sure to include contact details for your main liaison at the facility. As with adult dependent children, there may be a need to agree to a plan to discuss your death with them.
Many of us have house pets (and, yes, some have fins, wings, two legs, no legs, and/or scales) who are also dependent on us. And some pets are not house pets - such as a horse.
They will need immediate care upon your demise. If you have not discussed their care with anyone prior to your death, the minimum part of your death planning needs to include the name(s) of the veterinarian who take care of them. If it is a pet that is boarded outside of your home, then be sure to leave that information in your planning document.
Additionally, leave details on:
In all the emotional chaos that will occur when you die, you do not want any of them to suffer due to being overlooked or forgotten.
What is your full legal name?
Before death, the three most important documents are a Power of Attorney (POA), a Healthcare Proxy (HCP) and a Living Will
But none of these are valid after your death
Life insurance may be the first that comes to mind, but there are more...
These are the critical elements of what you leave behind and your bequests
Leave instructions for special items and collectibles. You probably understand their value better than other
Step-by-step guide on what to do first. Calls, paperwork, care arrangements, etc.
Where do you start? Physical remains, funeral options, death certificates, memorial services and more...
Next hurdle - how to handle financial records and accounts
Key reiminders on securing residences - owned and rented, apartments and houses - after a loved one's death
What you need to know to protect and eliminate the deceased's digtial presence
Don't forget subscriptions, memberships, and more...
Funny, helpful and special stories shared by others to help you through the process
For each section, download and personalize a pdf checklist