A Checklist: The 5 Most Loving Things You Can Do For the People You Love In the New Year.

It’s a new year, which means a new chance to do what you’ve been putting off until the time is right. That time is now. Here are 5 of the most loving things you can do for the people you love in the New Year because at some point you will become sick or die. And while we don’t like to think about it, the best way not to is to plan well and then put it out of your mind and live your life as if every day is your last.

  1. Make a plan. A will, trust, power of attorney, health care directive and, if you have kids, a Peace of Mind Plan so you don’t leave your family to deal with an expensive court proceeding overseen by a judge who doesn’t know (or really care) about you or your family or unnecessary estate taxes.
  2. Write a letter or record a CD. Pass on what really matters to your family -- your values, insights, stories and experience -- in written or recorded form so they can return to you long after you are gone.
  3. Pay for and plan your funeral. Cremated or buried? Ashes or body where? Yes or no to a viewing? Make these decisions now and let your loved ones know, in writing, so they don’t have to wonder. And consider pre-paying for your funeral expenses, so they don’t have to scramble in a time of grief.
  4. Plan to pay no taxes. Will there be taxes on your estate and how will your heirs pay them, if so? Meet with an Attorney to be sure because you’d be surprised how small an estate can be to be at risk for estate taxes or other costs, especially if there’s insurance involved.  You don’t have to be rich to think about this.
  5. Get organized. Let loved ones know where they can  find your legal documents and other important paperwork, the key to your safe deposit box and be sure to include all of the password information to access online accounts, including email, Facebook, and other regularly accessed programs.