It has been hard watching our beloved Celine Dion suffer over the death of her husband of 21 years, Rene Angelil, followed two days later by the death of her brother Daniel Dion. We empathize with her loss because we too have experienced the death of loved ones. Many of us don’t think of preparing to pass away, but we should. Rene Angelil did prepare, leaving Celine and the children with all his affairs in order as a final act of love for them.
To truly love another is to do everything within our power to prevent what suffering we can beforehand. We don’t allow our thoughts to create the fantasy it won’t happen to us. Yes, someday, something will happen to us. Loving others means we have the responsibility to tend to the business side of love to prevent those we care for uncalled-for misery.
I don’t know the legal requirements for the country in which you live so please do your own research to be prepared to help prevent your loved ones additional heartbreak. I am familiar with what steps you can take as residents of the United States.
1. Create what is called a “last will and testament” – a document stating your final wishes, what you want done with your property, house, car, belongings, pets, etc. You can write a will yourself, or you can hire a lawyer to write one for you. If you write one yourself, you’ll want to find a good will template, available on the internet, to help you. Make sure to include a guardian for your children. If you have children with special needs consult an attorney.
2. Decide who will pay your bills, deposit checks, manage your financial affairs, and your business if you have one. This can be done through giving someone what is called “durable power of attorney.” Choose a trustworthy and honest person to manage your affairs if you become sick and unable to do so yourself. The form to legally name a durable power of attorney is also available online.
3. Create an “advanced-care directive,” or what is called a “living will” that gives someone you totally trust the medical power of attorney to carry out your wishes about medical treatment at the end of life. This is a very important document to have in place. Your husband, wife or partner may clearly know your wishes but your parents can block them from carrying out your wishes if you do not have an advanced care directive in place. These forms are also available online.
4. Plan your funeral or memorial service and how you want your body disposed of. Don’t just leave it up to those you love to figure it out after you’re gone. It is hard enough to go through the death of a loved one without the additional stress of them trying to figure out what you want. Write a letter of instruction for your loved ones to follow.
5. Consider purchasing Term Life Insurance to help make sure your spouse, partner, and children have financial support after you pass away. Think about how much they will need to pay off a mortgage, car note, outstanding credit cards, and funeral and burial expenses. Also consider future education expenses for children. Look into this online to find a policy with a reputable company that will provide you peace of mind should your family need this type of financial support. The younger you are the less expensive Term life insurance is.
6. Further help your loved ones by keeping a folder or safe deposit box with important papers such as a marriage license, divorce papers, authorization to release health care information, vehicle titles, property deeds, and life insurance policies. Make a passwords document with a list of bank accounts, location of safe deposit boxes, and any letters of instruction about your wishes for a funeral or life-celebration.
You cannot prevent the pain your loved ones will feel when you pass away. But you sure can take every action now to make certain their pain of loss is not compounded by your lack of being prepared. Today, begin taking action to help protect the heart of the people you care for. Your loved ones will truly appreciate you having the business side of love in order as a last gift of love to them.