Planning for a Death: Things to Do Ahead of Time

There are certain things in life that no one wants to think about, much less plan for.  I can’t say that I’m counting down the days to my next dentist appointment.  Surely most of us don’t look forward to Mondays.  But, we all know that dentist appointments and Mondays are always coming, and the more prepared we are for them the smoother they tend to go and the better the results.

What about death?  No one wants to think about their death or the death of a loved one.  However, we are all eventually forced to face our own mortality.  The better prepared we are, the smoother and less painful these events can be for us and our loved ones.

Life insurance is a key component in planning for the future of our loved ones and ourselves.  I would like to share a short checklist of items we all need to keep in mind as we use life insurance to plan for a death.

Understand how the policy works: Not all life insurance policies work the same way.  Some policies are term life insurance policies, meaning that they only last for a set period of time.  Others can have death benefit values that can increase or decrease depending on different factors, such as how the markets are doing.   Some may even have riders that affect how the policy works.  Study your policy.  Make sure you know what it covers and what it doesn’t.  Look for information on how it works once you or your loved one passes away.  Help the beneficiaries understand how the policies work.  Speaking of…

Know who is a beneficiary, and update if necessary: Every life insurance policy has one or more designated beneficiaries that are assigned by the policy holder.  The beneficiaries are the ones that receive the death payout once the insured passes away, and thus are important in the whole process.  Check to see who is listed as beneficiaries on the policy.  Make sure their information is correct and up-to-date.  If necessary, the owner of the policy can make changes to their information, or even change the beneficiary to someone else.  Make sure these beneficiaries have a copy of the policy.  As with anything related to a policy, always feel free to reach out to the agent for any questions.

Keep your policy active: This is probably pretty obvious, but is extremely important: make sure the policy is kept active and paid current!  Many policies have a grace period for if the payments are running a little late, but passing that puts you at risk of have the policy lapse.  Once something like that happens, reinstating it can result in the premiums going up and having to go through the underwriting process all over again.  Sometimes, depending on the situation, the policy may be lost forever.  Imagine thinking that your loved one had life insurance coverage, only to find out they let it lapse long ago and now you have to come up with funeral funds yourself.  No one wants to do this to those we care about, so don’t.

Following these tips can help make the process so much smoother and less painful when the time comes.  I know it’s hard, but we all need to plan for our deaths and the deaths of our loved.  I would encourage everyone to listen to these tips and prepare for the inevitable.

…also, stop putting off the dentist…

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