What You Can Learn from Estate Planning Book “In Case You Get Hit by a Bus”

In Case You Get Hit by a Bus: How to Organize Your Life Now for When You’re Not Around Later is one of our favorite financial books. In fact, we found it so valuable that our team decided to showcase it. Below we not only share a few of the top financial and estate planning takeaways everyone should know, but also highlight some other items that many books or casual discussions on the topic don’t highlight.

It’s All About Perspective

Sure, the chances of getting hit by a bus are low, but death, taxes, and change are givens. While you may not be able to predict when death or changes will come, you can do a lot to organize your assets.

As the authors point out, the COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of a massive unexpected change. It put everyone’s health at risk and claimed the lives of many. The ripple effects included an economic recession and millions of unemployed people wondering how to afford basic living expenses.

Then, there are the “it won’t happen to me” things, from tragic accidents to terminal diagnoses to sudden medical events. When you put it in perspective, planning and organizing your life is worth the time and expense to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and your family is cared for when you are gone.

Give Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind

Speaking of your family, you can save them a significant burden when you pass by putting your affairs in order now. They will already be facing your loss, and not knowing what you would want, how to access your information, and manage your finances could leave them wondering and stressing even more.

Don’t leave them with a legal and financial mess to clean up. Instead, give yourself and your loved ones the freedom to live each day to the fullest without worrying about money and property matters. Although gathering all these documents and making these big decisions may seem daunting, it’s not as difficult as you may think once you begin, especially with guidance from the proper professionals.

Remember the Details

Everyone considers essential documents like their Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Trusts. But what about those everyday details that may not seem significant now and could leave even more questions when you’re not here?

For example, who will take care of your bills and how? What will happen to your home? How do you manage your accounts and passwords? What about your social media accounts? The following areas should be part of your estate plan:

  • Passwords and codes for all accounts and devices, including where you store them
  • Money and assets
  • Your underage children (consider important contacts, school information, documentation, friends, behavior, preferences, diet, medical matters, interests, etc.)
  • Instructions for your home and vehicles
  • ID documentation (e.g., birth certificate, Social Security card, license, passport, etc.)
  • Benefits information
  • Your most useful contacts
  • Money you owe (i.e., debt, credit, and insurance as the book notes)
  • Medical preferences and Advance Health Care Directives

Accounting for these areas is critical not only to ensure your family is not left with additional stressors but to prevent identity theft. Check out our article on identity theft protection for more tools and tips.

Planning for the Very End

Or, as In Case You Get Hit by a Bus calls this part, “The Finishing Touches.” Many struggle with the thought of their own death. However, dealing with it now means your loved ones will understand your wishes and won’t have to make these difficult decisions when you’re gone. It’s a liberating feeling.

Estate planning should also include plans for those priceless belongings and may factor in how you would like matters handled. Below are a few items to consider.

  • Memorabilia: This includes your photos, recipes, heirlooms, etc. Essentially, where do you want them to go?
  • Your Story: Record your personal history, favorite things, experiences, family tree, achievements, beliefs, and causes you care about so your loved ones can help your legacy live on.
  • Legacy Letters: The book refers to notes and letters to friends, family, acquaintances, and associates as Legacy Letters, which could also include videos for your loved ones.
  • Your Funeral: Planning your funeral and writing your obituary means everything will go as you wish and relieves your family of more stress after your passing.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Failing to develop an estate plan can leave those you care about most in a challenging and painful situation. Having a plan takes a weight off your shoulders and your family’s.

When you look at it in that light, organizing your life and establishing solid systems are more manageable steps to take. A financial advisor will make it all go even more smoothly by helping you determine what you need and often collaborate with your estate planner. Reach out to the Carlson team today for long-term and compassionate guidance.

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