Ok, let's just preface this with 'not trying to be morbid,' but I have had the not-so-awesome situation of finding out that my friends or loved ones have done zero, zip, zilch to get themselves prepared to no longer be here.

How do I know this? Unfortunately, I have had a few people pass over the last couple of years that were close to me. Only one had everything lined up and ready to go (in her words) just in case. So have you had a conversation with your loved ones? It really is never too early to let your wishes be known.

What info should you entrust with a family member about how things should go when you pass away?

Funeral For Disgraced Cardinal O'Brien
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First, there is the basic info, are you an organ donor? Do you want to be cremated? Have you pre-planned anything with a particular funeral home? If you want to have a service that involves you being in an open casket, is there a particular outfit that you would like to wear? Do you even want a service at all? All valid questions that you can share the answers to with your family.

Wait, have you done a will? What happens if you haven't done a will?


From the experiences that I have been around, if you don't have a will, and no next of kin, then it gets super complicated. Even having next of kin, things can get a little dodgy. There will be arguments over who gets what, even if it if your lucky penny collection. Take the time to write things down, legibly, then take that to a notary and get them to sign it. It is better to have something drawn up legally, but that can cost $400 to $1500 depending on your attorney and where you live.

Other things that you should do before you take that one last trip:

  • Double-check that your beneficiaries are up-to-date on accounts. If you say have a life insurance policy that has a person's name on it, those funds transfer directly to them, outside of the will, the estate or even probate.
  • If you have had a spouse that has passed before you, are the important documents in your name or both of your names? While you have time, take the time to get things in your name only. (As always, please discuss any and all of this with legal counsel). It makes it easier for the person taking care of things after you pass.
  • Appoint an executor. Make sure that they know your wishes and what is really going to be needed from them after you are gone. In some cases, this would be your spouse or next of kin. I have met families where things have gone smoother when this person is not a blood relative because they occasionally will be called on to referee something.
  • Make sure that you include with your final papers, a list of your accounts, bank accounts, life insurance, credit cards, who holds your mortgage if there is one, etc. This will help the person be able to contact places on your behalf.

Yes, it really isn't something that we want to think about or talk about, but I have seen a few situations recently where just a few of the above things would have made things for the loved ones a bit smoother after the passing.

Maybe someone should share this info with these people so they are ready:

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