Documents You Need NOW Before You Die: A Comprehensive Guide

No one likes to think about death, but if it wasn’t for death, life wouldn’t be so exciting. It’s like winning… you don’t know how good it feels unless you’ve lost. Yes, everyone’s going to die… even you. And me. Handling these documents NOW puts you and your family at ease and ensures that your money is handled based on WHAT YOU WANT vs. what the state or government wants for your family. It’s an act of love and responsibility towards those you leave behind. 

To help you get started, here’s a comprehensive guide to the essential documents you should have in place before you pass away.

1. Will or a Trust

A will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. If you have minor children, it’s also where you’ll name their guardians. A trust, on the other hand, allows for more control over how and when your assets are distributed, and could help you avoid the lengthy and expensive probate process. Deciding between a will and a trust depends on your personal circumstances, but having at least one is crucial.

2. Designate Beneficiaries in ALL Accounts

Your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and even some bank accounts allow you to choose your beneficiaries. 

This designation overrides whatever is written in your will, so that these assets go directly to the whoever you named without passing through probate. Regularly review these designations to ensure they align with your current wishes.

3. Power of Attorney (POA)

A POA grants someone you trust the authority to handle your financial affairs if you’re unable to do so yourself. This can include paying bills, managing investments, or even selling property. Without a POA, your loved ones might have to go through a lengthy court process to gain these rights.

4. Health Directive

Also known as a living will, a health directive outlines your wishes for medical treatment if you’re incapacitated and can’t communicate. It can specify which procedures you do or do not want and can include a durable power of attorney for healthcare, which designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.

5. Legacy Contact

Many digital platforms like social media sites allow you to designate a legacy contact. My video walkthroughs of this process for apple and android can be found on my Instagram here. This person can manage your account after your death, following the specific permissions you’ve set. Considering the significant digital footprint many of us leave behind, setting up a legacy contact is increasingly important.

6. An “IF I DIE” Folder

Gather all your important documents into a folder and let a trusted person know where it is. This folder should include your will or trust, POA, health directive, insurance policies, and any other important documents like property deeds or vehicle titles. It’s also helpful to include a list of accounts and passwords, just be mindful of security.

7. Business Owner? You Need an Insurance Plan

If you own a business, having a life insurance policy in place can ensure that your business survives your death. The payout can help cover any outstanding debts, pay for a successor to take over, or provide a financial cushion during the transition.

8. Personal Insurance

Life insurance can provide for your dependents, cover funeral expenses, and ensure that your financial plans continue uninterrupted. The amount and type of insurance you need vary greatly depending on your personal situation. It’s wise to consult with a financial advisor to determine the right coverage for you.


Preparing for death doesn’t have to be a negative thing! If you’re unsure about where to start or need help determining your insurance needs, don’t hesitate to reach me here. Remember, the best time to prepare these documents is now — long before they’re needed.

* The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision. Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

This material is intended to assist in educating you about insurance generally and not to provide personal service. If you need more information or would like personal advice you should consult an insurance professional. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial. Legal services are not offered by Money Mindset Wealth Management, LPL Financial or affiliated advisors. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified legal advisor.

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