Share this article

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Instagram Icon LinkedIn Icon

Mar 01, 2021 / After Life

Planning For Death: The Checklist

Planning For Death: The Checklist image

Estate planning can seem like a morbid topic, but it is an important way to protect your wishes and loved ones in the event of your death.

No matter your age, creating a comprehensive plan that provides clear guidelines for the division of your assets will give you peace of mind. Estate planning is more than just writing a will; it covers what medical care you will receive in the event of incapacitation and even your funeral wishes. In this article, we provide the ultimate estate planning checklist to ensure your affairs are in order.

Estate Planning Checklist

  • Inventory your belongings and assets
  • Create a trust for dependants and pets
  • Plan out an inheritance for your family
  • Review your insurance
  • Create a living trust for yourself
  • Write your will
  • Create a list of important documents or accounts
  • Select a power of attorney and executor
  • Plan your funeral
  • Write a letter to loved ones (optional)
  • Share your wishes with family members

Inventory Your Assets

Write an inventory of your assets and anything you may want to bequeath to family and friends. This will help you to ensure your will and estate planning covers everything. Calculate the value of each of the assets to create fair and equal inheritances for your loved ones.

Your assets will include things like:

  • Property/real estate
  • Savings accounts
  • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Collectables
  • Life insurance
  • Business ownership
  • Retirement funds
  • Collectables such as art, coins, antiques, or other valuables
  • Family heirlooms
  • Vehicles
  • Health saving accounts

Account For the Needs of Your Dependants and Pets

If you have children under the age of 18 or care for family members with special needs, your estate planning needs to account for their future. The same goes for your pets.

Accounting for the needs of dependents and pets consists of two parts:

  • Naming a guardian for them after your death – you should discuss this with the people you intend to name as guardians to ensure they are able and willing to do so. For dependents with special needs, this may be an assisted living facility. In that case, research the best option and how much it will cost.
  • Creating a trust for the cost of the dependants’ care - this will depend largely on the age of the dependants and their needs. A trust document will clearly outline what the fund should be used for.
  • Creating a college fund for your children – if you do not already have one, create a fund for your children to use towards college or a house. You can add instructions in your will for a portion of the inheritance to go into this fund too.

Plan Out Inheritance For Your Family

Write a list of the parties you want to bequeath in your will.

This may be:

Start by listing any specific items you want to bequeath to each of the parties and their value. If you want to keep your will as fair and even as possible, then you may need to consider the value of any heirlooms and keepsakes you might bequeath.

Plan the inheritance in advance so you can give it full thought before you write your will. This is a part of estate planning you should not discuss with family and friends as people may try to influence your decisions.

Review Your Insurance

If you do not already have life insurance, it might be worth considering it as part of your estate planning.

Life insurance is useful if:

  • The loss of your income would create financial hardship for your immediate family
  • You have dependants with special needs or minor children
  • Your business partners will need to buy out your interest in the case of your death

If you already have life insurance, check on who you have named as the beneficiary. You may name a specific person or a trust as the beneficiary of the life insurance payout after your death. This sum will automatically go to the beneficiary, regardless of if your will says differently, so it is important that you update your insurance beneficiary.

Create a Living Trust For Yourself

A living trust is a fund to be used for any medical costs or assisted living facilities while you are alive. This money will be controlled by you or your trustee in case you become incapacitated or are no longer able to make medical decisions. Your trustee may be your financial power of attorney. A living trust ensures that you have a financial plan in place for any accidents or deteriorations in health.

Create Medical Care Directives

A medical care directive lays out what your wishes are in the event you are incapacitated. This will instruct your loved ones on if you want extraordinary measures taken. Your medical power of attorney will make decisions that fall outside of your medical care directives, but it will serve as a guide to your overall wishes.

Write Your Will

Now that you have considered your assets, the needs of your dependents, inheritance, and life insurance, it is time to write your will. Your will should clearly lay out how all of your belongings and assets will be allocated. Anything that is not covered in the will would be assigned as per the legal process rather than your wishes.

If your estate planning is straightforward and you don’t have too many assets to bequeath, then you may use an online will writing service to create a will. If you have a complex estate, then you might consider seeking the help of a lawyer to help you. You should update your will any time your circumstances change so that it reflects your current wishes.

Examples of a change of circumstance include:

  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Birth of any children
  • Death of family members
  • New charities you would like to support

Ensure that the executor of your will or your attorney knows where your will is stored so they can present it upon your death.

Create a List of Important Documents or Accounts

You will not be around to answer questions anymore, so you need to create a comprehensive guide to your important documents and important accounts and account numbers. This will help your executor and family members find information easily and start the process of receiving the bequeathment and inheritance tax.

Select Your Powers of Attorney and Executor

These three people are key to estate planning. You will need to decide who you trust and discuss if they are willing to take on the role.

  • Executor – the executor ensures the directives of your will are carried out. They will also resolve any disputes that occur as a result of the will.
  • A medical power of attorney – the medical power of attorney will make decisions on your medical care if you are medically unable to. This needs to be someone you trust to follow your wishes, and you may find it helpful to create a list of medical directives to guide them.
  • A financial power of attorney – the financial power of attorney may be a separate person from the medical power of attorney. They will handle the allocation of funds while you are living if you are medically unable to make decisions for yourself.

Plan Your Funeral

Funeral planning can be extremely stressful at a time when your family are already grieving. By creating a complete guide to your funeral, you can help remove the stress for your loved one.

Write down your wishes for:

  • Music
  • Flowers
  • Burial vs Cremation
  • Where you want ashes scattered

You can even write down if you wish the flowers to be donated after your funeral or if they should go home with a family member. Funerals can be expensive, so you can take the time to calculate the costs of your desired funeral and put aside money to ensure your family do not have to deal with the cost.

Write Messages For Your Loved Ones

This is completely optional, but many people like to write letters for their loved ones to give them comfort and a way to remember them after their death. It is a great way to ensure nothing is left unsaid and that you get to pass on any life advice you wish to share with your loved ones.

Share Your Wishes With Your Family

Your partner should be a part of your estate planning process, especially if you have joint income and assets. You want to ensure the contents of your wills are complimentary; otherwise, if both of you pass away at the same time, it may cause ambiguity.

Your family should also be aware of your wishes for end of life care, funeral wishes, and the care of dependents and pets. You should not discuss the contents of your will with family members under any circumstances as they may try to influence their inheritance or cause resentment in your family. Regardless if the inheritance is split equally or you decided to leave everything to charity, someone will always be unhappy with how you allocated the inheritance.

After Life icon

Published Mar 01, 2021 |


Article Archive

Month: Sep

Archive icon What is a Side Hustle and How Do I Start a Side Hustle

Archive icon How to Organise Your Life

Archive icon Books to Kick-Start Your Career: Our Recommendations

Archive icon Why Everyone Should Plan Their Own Funeral

Archive icon What is Next of Kin? Who is Legally my Next of Kin?

Archive icon The Complete Guide to Inheritance Tax (IHT)

Archive icon Should I Include Property in my Will?

Archive icon Practical Advice for Dealing With Grief

Archive icon My Will: How to Name Beneficiaries and Inheritors

Month: Oct

Archive icon Working from Home: When Will it End?

Archive icon What Is a Utility Bill?

Archive icon Self-Love: What Is It and How Do I Practice It?

Archive icon How to Comfort Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One

Archive icon How to Choose Music for a Funeral

Archive icon How To Be a Better Friend, Family Member or Colleague: Our Top Tips

Archive icon How Do Credit Cards Work?

Month: Jun

Archive icon Why Millennials and Gen-Z Should Start Planning for the Future Now

Archive icon Using Marginal Gains to Save Time

Archive icon Top 5 Tips For Saving Money on Household Bills

Archive icon The Ultimate Bucket List: 20 Things to Do Before You Die

Archive icon How to Plan for the Future

Archive icon How to Close a Twitter Account When Someone Dies

Archive icon How to Close a Facebook Account When Someone Dies

Archive icon Digital Vaults: What is a Digital Information Vault and Should I Use One?

Archive icon 10 Things to Do Right Now to Save Time

Month: Mar

Archive icon Why Is Writing a Will Important?

Archive icon Planning For Death: The Checklist

Archive icon How to Eliminate My Digital Secrets After Death

Archive icon How to Close Accounts and Cancel Subscriptions After a Death

Archive icon How to Choose the Right Care Home

Archive icon Estate Planning Cheat Sheet: How to Look After My Family After Death

Archive icon Creating a Digital Estate Plan

Month: Aug

Archive icon Why are Bodies Exhumed?

Archive icon What is End of Life Planning?

Archive icon What Is a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare?

Archive icon What is a Direct Cremation? Things You Need to Know

Archive icon Open-Casket Funeral: What Can I Expect?

Archive icon Co-Executors: Can One Executor Act Without the Other?

Archive icon A Guide to Digital Security and Cybersecurity: Staying Secure Online

Month: Apr

Archive icon What Do I Need to Do When A Loved One Dies? A Step-by-Step Process

Archive icon Should I Get Life Insurance? When You Need Life Insurance and When You Don’t

Archive icon Planning for Your Golden Years: What Do I Need to Think About?

Archive icon Keeping My Finances In Order: A Checklist

Month: Jul

Archive icon Ways of Saving Time You May Not Have Thought Of

Archive icon Want to Save Money? It’s as Easy as A-B-£

Archive icon Saving for a House: Our Top Tips

Archive icon Our Ideas for Retirement Gifts

Archive icon Our Guide to Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

Archive icon Our Guide to Financial Security: Things to Do Now For Your Future Self

Archive icon How to Save £10,000 in a Year

Month: May

Archive icon Should I Donate My Organs?

Archive icon How to Get On & Climb the Property Ladder

Archive icon How to Calculate My Net Worth

Archive icon How to Be More Productive and Stop Wasting Time

Archive icon Everything You Need to Know About Trusts

Archive icon A Guide to Household Bills: Everything You Need to Pay as a Homeowner

Month: Nov

Archive icon Why is Sustainability Important?

Archive icon Sustainable Investing: What Do I Need to Know?

Archive icon New Year’s Resolutions: How to Stay On-Track

Archive icon Money Worries at Christmas: Having Fun Whilst Being Frugal

Archive icon What is a Personal Loan? Everything You Need to Know

Archive icon What is a Mortgage? Can I Get a Mortgage?

From our researchers straight to your inbox

Regular articles to help you, your family and your friends.

Our promise - We will never spam or give this address away.