End-of-Life Planning is the Best New Year’s Resolution You Can Make

It’s December, and that means many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

Maybe you’re determined to lose some weight, be more grateful, or improve your planning efforts. As you consider your future, two of the best planning tools are the estate plan and the funeral plan. Having an estate plan in place ensures that your assets will be protected and distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Advance funeral planning allows you to design your funeral or memorial service as you wish while easing the burden on grieving family members. It can be daunting to face the thought of your own demise, but too many people put off these legal and financial care decisions until it’s too late. Read on for some important things to know about these essential end-of-life preparations and why they should be among everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. 


What does estate planning involve?

Estate planning is the process of detailing how your assets will be managed during your lifetime and who will inherit your estate once you have died.  This plan is comprised of several legally binding documents:

  • A will: A will or living trust outlines how you want your assets divided after your passing. If you leave no instructions for surviving family members as to how to divide your property they will have to make educated guesses to honor your wishes. In some cases, the state may even intervene to make decisions about your assets should be distributed.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows your designee, or agent, to take control of your financial and legal matters if you become incapacitated.

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney:  This document allows your designee, or agent, to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so.

  • Living Will: This document includes specific instructions regarding what kind of medical care and treatment you do or do not want if the medical determination is made that there is no realistic hope of your significant recovery from an end-stage condition. If you don’t want to use life support devices or wish to donate your organs, for example, your living will would state those preferences.


Everyone can benefit from having an estate plan.

You may not have many assets and assume you don’t need a plan. But believe it or not, you probably do have an estate. Nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of anything you own, including your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, retirement accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, virtually everyone has an estate and you can’t take it with you when you die.


Without an estate plan in place, the future is uncertain.

According to Forbes magazine, an astonishing 60% of Americans over age 50 don’t have a will or living trust. If you should pass away without one, the probate laws of the state in which you live at the time of your passing determine how your assets will be distributed. You don’t want unintended beneficiaries to benefit from your assets and create an additional burden for your family. Planning your estate will also help you organize your records and ensure that your beneficiary designations are correct. Many people opt to include preplanning for their funeral arrangements in their estate plans, as well.


What can be included in the funeral plan?

You can outline virtually every detail of your funeral or memorial service in your plans, such as:

  • Preferences for burial or cremation
  • The type of casket or urn you’d prefer
  • Details about the kind of service you want
  • Your choice of a funeral provider
  • Designated pallbearers
  • The music and readings for your service
  • Preferences for the repast


Why do people pre-plan their funeral services?

Most people like to feel in control over the decisions that affect them, and that extends to their end-of-life choices. While no one can predict the time and circumstances of death, many take comfort in knowing they’ve selected the type of burial, location, and funeral they want. Planning ahead also relieves the burden on your loved ones at a difficult and emotional time.

Pre-planning lessens the likelihood of family conflict. Within most families, different perspectives and opinions are common. Factor in the intense emotions surrounding a loved one’s passing and you’re looking at the potential for some serious squabbles. While you can’t guarantee your family members will abide by your choices, advance funeral planning documents your funeral wishes, and provides a helpful guideline for your loved ones.


The biggest benefit is peace of mind.

Knowing you have properly prepared plans in place that contain your wishes and will protect your family will ease your mind. It’s one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and for those you love. Be sure to contact a qualified law firm or estate planning attorney for guidance with your legal documents. For assistance with funeral planning, please reach out to one of our compassionate funeral directors.


This New Year, we hope you put end-of-life planning on your list of resolutions. If you need more information, please contact us anytime. Our knowledgeable, caring team is here to assist you.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com

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