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Planning for the Future: Expected and Unexpected - Page 3

Anyone who has been through this process either as the person diagnosed with a serious disease or has witnessed the occurrence in a close family member or friend is likely to recognize the common failures when it comes to proper preparation. One approach that I have found useful when explaining to my patients and their families the importance of such planning is to go through the major steps that are involved, using as plain language as possible. Having a check list guide is another way of making sure that the important issues are addressed and documented.

Although it may seem self-evident, the first step is often dealt with as a crises rather than a well-planned process:

Arranging for the funeral and burial:
I became a convert to the pre-arranged and pre-paid funeral many years ago after I arranged it for myself—as a way of avoiding my family having to deal with such an emotionally fraught process in the time of crises and mourning. I found through the process I went through that the funeral home was very organized, dealt with all the issues and at the end provided me with the necessary documentation and contact numbers so that when necessary one phone call and the account number would assure the process would take place as I had wished it, not under the duress of making decisions such as type and expense of the casket. As an aside, pre-paying results in a financial saving as the payment is in current dollars not an inflated price in the future. If the person in question travels a lot it is worth paying the slight premium for return of the body to one's home town from anywhere in the world which could potentially cost a great deal.

Contacting critical people:
Aside from contacting close family members the critical people I am referring to: One's lawyer; financial advisor(s); insurance agent; bank manager; wills executor and accountant. With the help of this team, most if not all if the issues related to death and the issue of interpretation of the will, procedures around the release and distribution of assets can be undertaken in the most time efficient and non-emotional fashion. One should discuss the important points with the spouse or children who would be survivors to make sure everyone who should be in the loop of decision-making is properly prepared and informed. Arrangements for immediate cash-flow should have been anticipated and arranged so that there is no problem with paying necessary expenses while awaiting the final distribution of assets.