How much time have you spent thinking about your future death? If you’re like most people, probably not much. I don’t blame you. It’s a morbid topic that can bring up plenty of unpleasant emotions, but doing a little bit of planning now can provide you and those close to you with priceless peace of mind.

Psychological studies have shown that grief profoundly impacts our decision-making skills, and not for the better. (1) Making decisions and setting a plan in place now will ease some of the stress for your family and prevent them from making poor or rushed choices when they are in a time of shock or grief. Follow this checklist to ensure that everything is in place for when your time comes:

Create A Will

Are you one of the 64% of Americans who don’t have a will? (2) Your will outlines what happens with your property and dictates guardianship of your children. It also names your executor, who will carry out your wishes. You don’t want to leave these decisions to the state, which is what will happen if you don’t have a will. Make sure your spouse or other family members know how to access it when the time comes, and remember to review it regularly to ensure it is up-to-date.

Organize Legal Documents

Do you have an organized filing system, or are all your important documents strewn about in different places? Make sure your spouse or children have access to the following documents, which they will need to handle any legal details after you die:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Automobile Titles
  • Property Deeds

Review Benefits

If you want to ensure that your family will receive the benefits you have worked hard for, list out all the details pertaining to each benefit and communicate these to your family. Be sure to include the following:

  • Life Insurance
  • Social Security
  • Pension
  • Annuities

Communicate Account Details

Finances can get messy when someone dies. You don’t want your family scrambling for money or unable to access account information. They will have enough stress to deal with already, so save them the trouble by making a list of all your financial accounts, including the name of the bank/institution, account number, type of account, name on the account, and contact information.

Don’t forget about debts. Your debts won’t go away just because you do. Your spouse will be responsible for taking over the debts, so do your best to prevent missed payments that could damage credit and cause undue stress. For every debt, communicate the creditor’s name, outstanding balance, name on the debt, loan terms, and the amount, timing, and method of payments.

  • Mortgage
  • Home Equity Line Of Credit
  • Automobile Loans
  • Personal Loans
  • Student Loans
  • Credit Cards

Make sure your spouse is familiar with recurring household expenses, such as utilities, and how and when to pay them.

  • Property Taxes
  • Electricity
  • Sewer
  • Water
  • Natural Gas
  • Garbage
  • Telephone
  • Cable TV
  • Internet Service
  • Landscaping
  • House Cleaning
  • Homeowner’s Association Dues
  • Other Organization Membership Dues

Update Insurance

When was the last time you reviewed your insurance policies? You most likely purchased insurance to protect those you love, so do your due diligence and verify that the various policies are current and beneficiary information is correct.

In addition to the life insurance payout that your family will receive, have all the details for your other policies in an easy-to-find spot. Your spouse will need to contact the companies to cancel or update the policies. This includes medical, dental, auto, long-term care, and homeowners, to name a few.

Build A Budget

An important part of developing a plan for your spouse to move forward alone will involve communicating your current spending needs.  If you don’t already have a written budget, begin tracking your expenses and create one. It will be an incredible aid when planning for the future.

Work With A Trusted Advisor

Having a support system with expertise in these areas will make your planning process simpler and give you peace of mind that you have covered all your bases. Take the time now to build a relationship with a financial advisor or retirement coach and make sure your spouse and family members are involved so that if the unexpected happens, they have someone they can trust to help them handle matters.

I believe it is worth your time to prepare for an unexpected death before it happens. I work to prepare your finances for any situation and every stage of life. As you start preparing for an unexpected death, I am here to answer any questions you may have. Give me a call at 770.249.7424 or email me today at I look forward to helping you worry less and enjoy life more.




About Beau Henderson

Beau Henderson is a financial advisor, author, coach, radio personality, and CEO of RichLife Advisors. He has helped over 3,000 clients to not just improve their relationship with money, but to live the life of their dreams.

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