January 3, 2012

Have you made your resolutions for the New Year?

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

Most people, it seems, resolve to do something new or different or better as the calendar flips over to January. And it’s a pretty well-established fact that most resolutions, for one reason or another, aren’t kept throughout the year.

Perhaps, for many of us, we don’t need as many “resolutions” as we need “to-do lists.”

I admit it. I’m a list guy. More than once, I’ve added something to my to-do list – and immediately crossed it off – realizing that I had already completed it, but forgot to put on my list in the first place. Lists, for some of us, can be helpful. Even inspiring.

So don’t make a New Year’s resolution to review your Will. Put it on your to-do list. An outdated Will may not do everything you had intended it to do. And if you don’t have a Will – establishing one with the help of a good lawyer belongs at the TOP of your to-do list.

Don’t make a New Year’s resolution to establish or review Power of Attorney, Living Will and Advance Directives documents. Put it on your to-do list. These important documents allow you to assign who can make decisions on your behalf in the event you are temporarily or permanently unable to do so for yourself, including life-support decisions. Talk to your lawyer.

Don’t make a New Year’s resolution to review the particulars of your life insurance. Put it on your to-do list. If your family landscape has changed due to birth, death, marriage or divorce, your beneficiary designations may no longer reflect your intentions for your life insurance proceeds. Talk to your life insurance agent.

And don’t make a New Year’s resolution to establish or review your pre-arrangement. Put it on your to-do list. Pre-arranging allows you to tell your family what’s important to you regarding your funeral arrangements – and spares the people you care the most about from having to make so many difficult decisions at such a difficult time. Talk to your funeral home.

Everyone seems to understand that each of these elements is important to consider. Yet, comparatively few people actually attend to these items while they still can. From my vantage point as a funeral director, perhaps the most important aspect of each and every one of these to-do list items is this: once your family is finalizing funeral details, it’s simply too late to review, update or change anything. Your overall plan “is what it is” at that point; good intentions simply don’t apply anymore.

If you can make a New Year’s resolution stick, then be resolved to review and update your plan as needed. If you’re not so sure about the success of a resolution….grab a pen and a piece of paper and make a good old-fashioned to-do list. It’s a good time to get to work on your plan.

Remember Well.