When you’re young you assume that you’re going to live forever. You can eat whatever you want and your waistline won’t show it. You can work all day and party all night and even when it all catches up with you, a good night’s sleep can usually cure all ills. As we get older, however, we’re given plenty of subtle reminders of our own mortality.
Our metabolism is no longer as forgiving as it used to be, every look in the mirror reveals a new wrinkle and when our hair has the good grace to remain in our heads it still taunts us by turning white. It’s easy to bury your head in the sand and presume that you live forever, but as we marry and raise children it becomes increasingly incumbent upon us to provide for our families and this includes ensuring that they are well looked after when we’re no longer around to take care of them.
If you’ve had to go through the agony of burying a loved one, you know that leaving this world is an expensive prospect for those you leave behind. Nobody wants to lumber their surviving spouse and kids with crippling funeral costs. It can come as a real twist of the knife for the ones you love the most in an already difficult and demanding time. Fortunately, this can be avoided with the right planning and by putting your money in the right places.
It All Starts With The Will
An estimated 64% of Americans die without making a will. Make sure you’re not one of them. If you shuffle off your mortal coil without making a will then you die intestate. This means that your assets are divided amongst your surviving heirs in accordance with state law. An executor will be determined by the state. This is usually your spouse but may be your eldest child. Since all states vary there’s simply no way of knowing who will be in charge of your estate unless you make a will.
Here you can be as prescriptive as you like about what goes to whom and you can ensure that those upon whom it will fall to arrange the funeral inherit the assets to do so without compromising their personal finances.
You can also leave detailed instructions about how your funeral will be arranged to avoid needless spending (more on that later).
Plan Your Own Funeral
More and more people are planning their own funerals to save their loved ones the heartache after they’re gone. This means that you will be able to save money by purchasing a casket direct and taking on some of the tasks that a funeral director would charge significantly more for. Arranging your own grave plaques, casket and burial or cremation will save your family money and grief when the time comes. There are few more meaningful gifts you can give your family than peace of mind.
Taking The Sting Out Of Tax
Depending on the state in which you live, your family may not be able to really enjoy their inheritance after Uncle Sam has taken his slice of the pie you leave behind in the form of federal and state taxes. Some states are more forgiving in their death taxation levels (you didn’t think that all those elderly people moved to Florida to go to Disneyland did you?) than others. If you’re worried about the implications of death taxation you may want to consider tax free gifting.