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Bereavement plan lessens load on others when you're gone

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Anthony Engrassia

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Anthony Engrassia
Business Columnist

Monday, November 21, 2016

One of the hardest situations to go through is bereavement, especially when the death is unexpected. Many people with terminal illnesses thoroughly plan to make it easier for their spouse or loved ones to handle issues after they’ve died. But today, many others of all ages also are taking on bereavement planning.

Why bereavement planning? Although some find this morbid, it really isn’t. When planning for bereavement, much of the process simply is having your affairs in order and being organized. This allows your loved ones time to grieve without having to make quick decisions about what you wanted or where important documents are located.

Bereavement planning can be as in-depth as each individual is comfortable with. Some people even plan their own funeral and write their own obituary. Here are a few items to consider in your planning process.

— Prepare your will — The primary purpose of a will is to ensure your wishes are carried out. If you don’t have a will, you need to draw one up. Your spouse also should have one. Your will also periodically should be reviewed to make needed adjustments.

— Prepare your living will — A “living will” is a document that states your requests in the event that you are unable to communicate them. In addition to medical decisions, a living will also can state your intentions for property or other assets.

— Choose your executor — This person – often an adult child, a trusted family friend or your attorney – will make sure the instructions in your will are carried out. If no executor is named, the court will appoint one. It is important you first ask this individual before naming him or her as the executor.

— Organize important papers — One situation that can cause anxiety after a loved one’s death is locating all the paperwork needed to clear up an estate. Documents such as real estate deeds, vehicle titles, beneficiary documents for investments, military service documents and birth certificates will be needed after your death. Having these organized makes it much easier for your family to follow through on your wishes.

Finally, keep in mind that bereavement planning doesn’t have to be done alone. Work with your financial professional and attorney to make sure your affairs are in order — and maintained. Many professionals also offer a “survivor checklist” that can be filled out along with the other important documents. The checklist is designed to make the bereavement process a little less stressful for those you love.

Anthony Engrassia is an investment adviser representative of Mutual for Omaha Investor Services.

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