It’s a task that no one likes to think about, but preparing for death is something that everyone must eventually face. It’s been said that dying is more expensive than living — and the statistics don’t exaggerate that notion. According to a 2010 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average out-of-pocket healthcare costs spent during the last year of life is approximately $11,618. Although this figure varies with income, the report found that health care spending in the 99th percentile of individuals topped more than $94,000 — in other words, more than twice the annual U.S. household income.
The myriad of expenses associated with entering the final years of life, including long-term assisted care, medical expenses and funeral costs, not to mention loss of income, are all challenges that can devastate a family. Just as you would prepare for a child’s college fund, your own retirement, or any other major financial expense, preparing for death is a necessity, too. And according to Crossen Kooi, when it comes to the death of a loved one, the last thing that should be on your mind is how you will continue to survive without the financial support they provided. Or on the other hand, the financial cost of what their death will cost.
What Do I Need?
To avoid unnecessary worry about financial problems in the face of a loved one’s death — or even your own — here are a few things to keep in mind to help you prepare for the inevitable:
- Purchase life insurance. This is especially important if you still have dependent children or significant debts like a mortgage. Life insurance, whether it’s term insurance or whole life, can help replace lost income from you or your spouse in the event of death.
- Create a will. The implementation of a will ensures that your wishes will be carried out in terms of financial and asset protection, as well as the administration of any trusts you set up for your children. If you have young children still at home, it also provides for their care.
- Appoint powers of attorney. Make sure that a trusted advisor is in place to carry out your desired financial wishes, as well as any advanced healthcare directives you may have. Without this permission, your family may have a fight on their hands to access your assets and to make sure your medical wishes are followed.
- Create a funeral savings plan. Simply making it a point to save for that inevitable future of dying can help ease the burden of those left behind in the event of your death. The cost of the funeral preparations, casket, grave plot, and a myriad of other expenses is the last thing your family will want to think about after you die.
No one wants to die, but it will eventually catch up with all of us. Start preparing now, so that when you do die, your family doesn’t have to suffer financially as they adjust to life without you.
Author Harper Harmon is a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on business, health and other various topics. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from UCLA and currently resides in Santa Cruz with her dog, Sassy.