Death: the big elephant in the room. Many people fear death, and they do so in a way that keeps them from truly living. While death is a taboo topic, I believe that when we can talk about and prepare for death, we free ourselves to live more fully.
After all, how would you live if you didn’t have to worry about:
- What your loved ones will do when you’re gone (or how they’ll “get by”)
- How to afford the costs, because YES, dying is expensive (whether it should be or not)
- Where your assets will go, and whether or not creditors and other entities will try to get a piece of the pie
When we can prepare for death, which unfortunately comes for us all, we can live knowing that things will be taken care of when we’re gone. And what a relief to know that you’ve gained a measure of control over the one big event we can’t truly control.
So, how do you prepare for your “Death Day”? Let’s take a look.
Table Of Contents
- 7 Ways to Prepare for Death Day
- Preparing for “Death Day” Doesn’t Have to Be a Drag
7 Ways to Prepare for Death Day
1. Have fun with a life expectancy calculator.
It may not sound like fun, but using life expectancy calculators can give you interesting insights into how long you may live. And spoiler alert…it’s probably longer than you think.
Aside from curiosity, there are actually several reasons we encourage looking into your life expectancy. First of all, life expectancy calculators can give you a more grounded expectation for how long your “retirement” may be. While we don’t recommend saving an arbitrary amount of money for a fixed amount of time, it can help you set more realistic strategies that increase the longevity and flexibility of your finances.
Another great reason to look at life expectancy is to understand why your projections are the way they are. Oftentimes, simple lifestyle changes can increase (or decrease) your longevity.
A few of our favorite calculators are Living to 100 and Blue Zones. Northwestern Mutual also has a life expectancy calculator that’s good for illustrating how small changes affect your longevity.
2. Take care of your physical self.
It may seem morbid, yet it’s important to ensure that your physical body is taken care of. If you don’t have a strategy come Death Day, your family can end up making costly decisions at the behest of the funeral home.
First things first, how do you want to go—cremation, casket, or something different? There are several companies that will put your ashes in a biodegradable urn so that you can grow as a tree. You can even donate your body to science.
It’s also important to determine how much you want these services to cost. Funerals have a tendency to be expensive, and they’re more for the living than they are for you. There are plenty of ways to decrease costs, it just requires some insistence when working with the funeral home. To ensure things go as you intend, you can even write your desires into your will…which brings us to the next step.
3. Have a will, and maybe some Trusts, in place.
It’s never too early to start Estate Planning. We personally work with the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys to ensure that clients get the details sorted. NNEPA can help you write your will and establish trusts so that your assets go exactly where you want them to go.
If working with an attorney isn’t feasible for you right now, don’t worry! You can create a simple will using an online tool like Free Will. If you have life insurance, the beneficiaries of your policy trump your will. So beyond keeping your beneficiaries updated in your policy, utilize your will for other details like who will receive your wedding ring, how you want your funeral, etc.
4. Use Protect myPlans.
It wasn’t long ago that a personal computer was a novelty. Now, we couldn’t fathom being without a smartphone on our person at all times. WIth that, comes the fact that the way we live is almost entirely digital.
In a digital world, it’s important to protect your digital assets. Now that 90% of our lives are online, it’s important to have a game plan for our online assets. Otherwise, those assets can be lost to the ether forever.
Digital assets include passwords and account information for everything you can think of: banking access, financial apps, your crypto wallet, NFTs, email accounts, business accounts, and much more.
Furthermore, many social media platforms also become impossible to shut down after death without express permission. Without this permission and/or access, platforms will mark the deceased’s profile as “memorialized.” While a nice thought, this can actually leave the deceased vulnerable to identity thieves.
There are many compelling and important reasons to use digital asset protection. Using Protect myPlans ensures that none of your information gets locked away from your beneficiaries so that your legacy can continue uninterrupted.
5. Sign up for Five Wishes.
Want a contingency strategy for your care, should you be unable to care for yourself? Ensure that your wishes for care are followed by signing up for Five Wishes. That way, when you’re at your most vulnerable, you can still have agency and control over your life.
While this type of program isn’t specifically for death, it’s an important piece of the puzzle in case of disability or health complications.
6. Meditate on your legacy.
This is one of our more abstract tips, yet one of the more philosophically prudent. Identifying the philosophical components of your legacy can help family members be more on board with your wishes upon death–and ensure that your legacy is more than the money you leave behind.
Keeping a running journal on your personal values, your mission statement and the rule of engagement for your monetary legacy can make sure that your beneficiaries are aligned with you. When working with an estate planning attorney, you can even work this philosophy into your Trust, so that your beneficiaries have some ground rules to access. We’ve seen families request that beneficiaries use legacy money to further education, start a business, or pursue a passion.
This type of thought can also prepare younger children for a large inheritance, helping them to use it responsibly and be more mentally prepared for it. In our new book, Perpetual Wealth, we go into detail about creating this kind of family philosophy and legacy.
7. Have a life insurance policy.
Finally, it’s important to have life insurance in place, so that you can leave the biggest legacy possible to your loved ones. While we love to talk about the living benefits of whole life insurance, it’s also important that we recognize how it affects Death Day.
With life insurance, you can pass on a tax free death benefit that can replace your income and help you family make a huge life transition without you. This can also ease death costs for your family, and help them figure out what to do next.
We recommend whole life insurance because of its living benefits (like a cash value savings component), however there’s another type of insurance that is a good option for young adults: convertible term insurance. Convertible term insurance has the benefit of being inexpensive, with the added option for conversion to whole life insurance. This means that you can secure insurance while you’re young and in good health, while being able to keep costs down until you’re able to convert.
Preparing for “Death Day” Doesn’t Have to Be a Drag
We get it, no one wants to think about their death. However, taking a few hours to get things in order can free you up to live without worry or regrets. By having a strategy for every little detail, you won’t have to have that fear in the back of your mind.
Do yourself a favor and get your affairs in order so that you can live life to the fullest, knowing that your loved ones will be cared for and your assets won’t be lost to “the void.” If we can answer questions for you or help you start a life insurance policy, contact us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.