It goes without saying that your death will be a very difficult experience for your family members. Jewish Memorial Gardens has prepared the following to assist you in planning so that the burden on your family will be reduced at this most stressful time.
MOST OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS CAN BE DONE WELL IN ADVANCE OF DEATH, BUT MUST BE UPDATED REGULARLY TO REFLECT CHANGES IN YOUR SITUATION.
- ORGANIZE your paperwork. Keep important documents together, preferably in a safety deposit box at the bank, or in a fire resistant box in your home. Among the things to include in the box are copies of your will, your insurance policies, details of bank accounts and investments, stock and bond certificates, and pension information.
- Make a list of your important account numbers and contact information. Things to include on this list are:
- Bank branches and account information
- Social insurance number
- Name of insurance providers, policy numbers, and contact information
- Credit card numbers and providers
- Location of recent tax returns
- Name of your lawyer and accountant and contact information
- Names of your investment advisors and contact information
- Details of pensions
- Mortgage and loan information
- Details of any prearranged interment right purchases (cemetery plot) or prepaid services
- Meet with your lawyer and prepare a WILL or, if necessary, update an older will. Your will deals with the disposition of your assets after death. As part of the process of preparing the will, you are required to name an Executor, who will be responsible for gathering up the estate assets, paying your outstanding debts, filing any outstanding tax returns (for yourself and your estate) and dividing what remains of your estate among the beneficiaries. It is recommended that you ask the person that you are considering appointing as EXECUTOR before doing so.
- While a will covers what happens after death, Powers Of Attorney deal with how your health care needs and your property will be managed during your lifetime should you not be able to do so yourself due to injury or illness. While most people use a lawyer to prepare the Powers of Attorney, there are kits available online, in stores, or from the provincial office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. More detailed information on Powers of Attorney are available at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt/incapacity/poa.asp
- Sit down with key family members, and review your finances with them. At the very least, make sure that they are aware of where you will be keeping the documents and lists that were described in points 1 & 2 above.
- You may wish to meet with family members while healthy and able to do so and discuss with them who will receive your treasured artwork, furniture, and other objects of value (both sentimental and financial). Doing so in advance may be a kindness to those close to you for it both respects their wishes and helps prepare them psychologically for the inevitable.
- If you have something special that you would like done regarding memorials or funerals, make sure that someone who will be in a position to act on your request is aware of it. Examples might be an inscription on your gravestone, or something that you would like read at your funeral. It is very important that this information not be kept in your safety deposit box as it may not be opened in time to fulfill your request.
The above suggestions are presented by Jewish Memorial Gardens in the hope of being helpful. However, the reader should know that the information provided is for general information purposes only. Jewish Memorial Gardens assumes no liability for any inaccurate or incomplete information, nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon. The reader should seek advice as required from her or his own personal advisors.