1) If you have any valuable asset or assets that would need to be distributed at the time of your death, you might want to consider having a will.  Consider this:  the state of which you live will have no other choice than to decide for you how your assets will be distributed at the time of your death.  Their determination may not have been the way you thought or may have wanted it to be settled.

2) If you have a bank account with only your name on it, please consider putting a beneficiary down. If you do not, the money will most likely become a part of an estate and without a will, the state then decides how the money will be distributed.

3) Your legal next of kin, which is determined by law, has the right to make the decisions regarding your funeral arrangements unless there is a will designating another person. This can mean for example, that your beneficiary named on your insurance policies or bank accounts may not be your legal next of kin.  If this is the case and the two people are not on one accord, it can be a very tense situation when planning a service.  This needs to be thought through by you.  Some suggestions would be either make your next of kin your beneficiary; do a will so that you designate a person to make arrangements or at least if they are different people make sure that they your next of kin and your beneficiary/beneficiaries know your wishes and you are confident that they will carry them out accordingly.

4) In regards to beneficiaries, there are a couple of things to consider

A) Make sure they are currently alive!  A lot of times, beneficiaries who are deceased are still down as primary beneficiaries which can sometimes cause major problems.  Please change them to someone who is alive or consider a contingent or secondary beneficiary in case the named primary beneficiary does die before you.

B) Make sure beneficiaries are over 18.  If the beneficiary is a minor, monies in a lot of cases will not be made ready and available until the child reaches 18 which means if the money was going to be used for your funeral expenses, there is a high likelihood that the money will not be available for use

C) Lastly, make sure and double sure that you have named a beneficiary!  If there is not a beneficiary named, the money from your policy can end up as part of an estate.

5)  Insurance policies under two years old are generally contestable policies and may or may not pay out in the event of your death. The insurance company decides if they will pay after thoroughly researching all medical records to see if you answered truthfully in regards to the medical questions asked.  This could take many months to do.  The insurance company then will determine if they will pay the death benefit.  Because of the unpredictability of a contestable policy, many funeral homes will not automatically agree to take a policy under two years.

6) Social Security only pays a 255 death benefit to a living spouse on behalf of the deceased spouse.  Every U.S. citizen is not eligible for a Social Security death benefit.

7) Keep current records of your policies and their values.  It’s a good idea, once a year to call the insurance company and have them send out a statement of your policy especially if it’s a paid up policy to ensure that you know their current values and put these records in a safe place that your family can readily get to.

8) Finally, last but not least, the subject of death is not an easy topic but one that we all will have to encounter at some point.  Sit down with a trusted individual and let them know how you want things to be done ahead of time and start getting your house in order.  It’s hard enough to deal with the fact that you are no longer here, but then to deal with the task of how you may have wanted things or how they may pay for a service is very difficult and can bring on a lot of stress.  The more that you prepare them, the better equipped mentally, spiritually, financially and so on to handle things when you pass away.  It is a gift of peace you have given them that is truly priceless!