Or this post could have been titled “Ease the burden of loved ones.” Because I’m an estate planning attorney, the “Before you die…” advice I’d typically give would be to have a will or living trust plan prepared. I certainly always recommend that advice. This post, however, is different.
I recently read an article I loved, “You Need to Make a ‘When I Die’ File–Before It’s Too Late.” The article speaks to the side of estate planning that I rarely participate, and that’s the grieving family part of planning for what happens after you die. I help my clients get all the documents they need, and advise on decisions that need made. What struck me about the suggestions in this article though were actions to take that speak to people you love. The article adds two items to the typical estate planning checklist, i.e., an ethical will and letters to loved ones: “[W]here a legal will transfers assets, an ethical will transfers immaterial things: your life lessons and values.”
An ethical will supplants a traditional will, and might be used to explain why you chose one child to serve as executor over the other child, or why you chose close friends as guardians for your child over your siblings. “Letters to loved ones” is self-explanatory, and I highly recommend it if you have children who might have difficulty remembering you if you die when they are young.
As the author states:
The point of all this is to make a difficult thing like dying or loving someone who is dying less difficult. In that sense, creating a When I Die file is an act of love. It will always be too soon to tell your story and let people know how much they mean to you, until it is too late.
If you have any questions about estate planning, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.