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Key Life Decisions: Are You Prepared?

March 26, 2017

Written by Rebecca Feeley

I recently went to a panel presentation at a local funeral home (morbid, I know!) where a financial advisor, an attorney, and a funeral professional each provided their own perspective on the importance of considering and planning for the inevitable: death. While it wasn’t exactly a “fun” topic, it was incredibly eye-opening. As per usual, I walked away with a few tidbits of information that I was really surprised about. Here are a few:

  1. A common misconception is that the wishes stated in your will trump all other legal and financial documents. The truth is that the beneficiaries listed on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies will take precedence over those listed in your will. This is why it is SO important to review your beneficiaries periodically, so that your money is left to the appropriate heirs in the event that something happens to you.
  2. In the state of New York, when a person dies without a will explicitly stating otherwise, the first $50,000 in their estate is left to the surviving spouse. The remainder of the estate is then split evenly between the spouse and the children. Therefore, it is crucial that your Will is very specific about how you would like your estate distributed upon your death.
  3. The cost of a funeral typically DOUBLES every decade. Most funeral homes allow you to “lock in” the current going rate by pre-paying your funeral expenses. Not only does that keep costs down, but it also allows you to make key decisions about what you would like your service to be like so that your loved ones don’t need to make those choices in the midst of grieving your loss.