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Why Itís Important to Plan for Death
The end will come for all of us. You and your spouse can make the process easier for the other with a little planning.


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Planning for a funeral isn't pleasant, but death is inevitable.


Survivors also are often left to make decisions about funerals or memorial services while they are still grieving.”
People rarely like to dwell on the fact that they or a loved one will die someday, even though itís an inevitable part of life. From a practical standpoint, we would make preparations to ensure that survivors arenít placed in financial jeopardy, and that they know the deceased personís final wishes. But the reality is that people procrastinate because the topic is too painful to think about.

I lost my husband suddenly after 46 years of marriage, so I know from experience about the confusion, chaos and disastrous financial consequences that occur. Itís time for people to make a change in their thinking and planning about death.

No one wants to admit that life has an end, but picture your spouse, your children, your parents, or anyone else you hold dear. What would their lives be like if you died and hadnít properly prepared your estate and legal documents?

Survivors also are often left to make decisions about funerals or memorial services while they are still grieving. Just 23 percent of people over age 50 have planned for their funeral or burial, according to the AARP. Meanwhile, funerals come with a hefty price tag that keeps rising, with the average cost in 2014 at $7,181, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

Making arrangements for your own funeral may feel surreal. But imagine the pain others will have dealing with that if you donít step up and do it for themóand take care of the cost now if possible.

The good news is that despite the emotion involved, preparing for death can be handled over time and at your own pace, although it does require motivation and organization.

Among the things to consider:

* Collect important documents and details in one place. Some of the personal information that should be gathered together would include names of your doctors, your bank accounts, Social Security information, life insurance policies, a will and anything else thatís critical to your estate. Having all the important personal information in one place makes a huge difference in reducing stress and making the process easier for the person or persons left behind.

* Plan that funeral. Itís not a pleasant topic, but itís natural to wonder how our lives will be honored after death. Our vision might not be the same as family members, so itís important to decide how and where the final resting place will be and whether there should be a funeral or a memorial service. Do you want a burial or cremation? Do you prefer an old-fashioned obituary or a simple social media announcement?

* Hire experts. There is a business for every need, and the arena of death is no exception. Try contacting a team of professionalsóattorneys, accountants, financial advisorsówho can help sort through all the financial and legal details ahead of time so there are fewer challenges to face at the time of death.

The best way to honor a loved oneís legacy is to ensure that his or her wishes are carried out after death. But that shouldnít happen at the expense of a budget when youíre grieving and canít make clear decisions.

Susan Covell Alpert, author of "Later is Too Late: Hard Conversations That Canít Wait" (www.susanalpertconsulting.com), is a lecturer, consultant, entrepreneur and frequent guest on national radio and television shows. Alpert, who holds a masterís degree in psychology and education, has been the owner of several multi-million dollar companies and is experienced in negotiation, finance, international services, and business. Alpert also is author of "Driving Solo: Dealing with Grief and the Business of Financial Survival."


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