The overwhelming success of 50 Shades of Grey, both the book and record-breaking movie, got us thinking. Perhaps we’ve been too passive when it comes to getting people to plan. We have all the tools for everyone in the world to get a plan in place, but it appears some people need a push. So here goes...
You’ve been a very, very bad planner. Step into our extra comfy, well-lit planning roo...um, we mean, enter our dungeon of decadence and take your place on the throne of nonresistance as we go through the 50 things you need to do to take control of your life.
The safe word: Deputy. If you’re unfamiliar with Everplanning this will make sense soon enough. Also, who said you could speak? (Too much? We're still new at being bossy.)
You’re No Good To Us Hurt
You need to call your own shots when it comes to medical treatment. If you’re a good planner we might even untie you long enough to fill out an Advance Directive.
2. Name a person you trust implicitly as your Health Care Proxy (a.k.a. Health Care Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, or Health Care Agent ) to make difficult medical decisions when you’re tied up.
3. Your heart belongs to us only figuratively. Decide if you want your real heart, and the rest of your important body parts, to go to those in need by being an Organ Donor.
4. Once you’ve thought through the first three things on this list, find your state’s Advance Directive Form here, print it, follow the directions, and get to work.
5. If don’t want to be poked and prodded by doctors when there’s no hope of recovery, you need a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). Unlike an Advance Directive, which you complete on your own, you need to fill this out with a doctor. Might we recommend Dr. Doom? Okay, maybe you should choose your own doctor in this instance.
6. These important medical documents are the ultimate exhibitionists. Don’t bury them in the bottom of a drawer or in a locked box with your secret items. You want them to be seen in their stark glory by all or else they’re completely worthless. (And we know how much you loathe wasting time on worthless things.)
Bend To Our Will
Time to exercise some “will” power so you don’t leave your family in a bind.
7. Take a nice long look at your massive, lovely...possessions. Your house, car, collectibles, etc... Where do you want them to go when you no longer have any use for them? You could have your family fight over all these things in court, or you can assert your dominance right now and divvy everything up in your Will.
8. You don’t have to be nice. If there’s someone who wronged you in your life, you can make a point of leaving them nothing. Here’s the catch: If you don’t create a Will, and this person is a close relative, Probate court could end up giving them everything. We wouldn’t want that happening, now would we?
9. Guardianship is about nurturing and caring for another person’s child as if he or she were your own. If you have little ones, or care for an adult with special needs, you need to name someone so those bundles of happiness aren’t left to fend for themselves. [Related reading: How To Choose A Guardian]
10. If you don’t pick a guardian, the court will choose one for you. Are you the type of person who wants a judge you’ve never met deciding the fate of your children? Who knows where they’ll end up? You can only hope it’s not with your creepy loner cousin who transformed his shed into a real S&M dungeon. But since you didn’t make the decision while you were alive it’s too late now.
11. After you’ve named a guardian, you have another decision to make: Who handles their financial well-being? If you’re already trusting someone to raise your child, odds are you can trust them with money as well. But what if you want to put a barrier between love and money? Enter the Guardian of the Estate. Do you need one?
12. A Will isn’t complete until you name an Executor. This no-nonsense take-charge person will make sure everything you want gets done. Now you’re playing with power!
13. Once your Will is official, keep it locked up somewhere safe and secure. (Hmm, we like the sound of that…) But seriously, tell someone you trust where it is so they don’t have to tear your house apart to find it.
14. If you don’t want to do a Will for whatever reason let people you care about know that too. Otherwise, they could spend time ripping apart your house over a document that doesn’t exist. You can even leave a note as to why you didn’t want a Will just to put them at ease.
Are You Covered Or Uncovered?
We’re talking about Life Insurance. What did you think we were talking about? (So naughty!)
15. If you already have Life Insurance you need to keep the policy somewhere safe and let your beneficiaries know where it is in case they ever need it. The money they’re owed from the policy won’t seek them out. They have to go get it.
16. If you’re uncovered but desire coverage quit wasting time and get some. It’s not as if insurance companies are secret societies unwilling to admit new members. Just call one up and get the ball rolling already. Here’s a Life Insurance primer we put together to get you started on the basics.
17. It’s wise to check the beneficiaries you’ve named every once in a while and make sure they’re still worthy of the loot. (Example: Ex-spouses, estranged family, backstabbing friends, etc…)
A Relatively Painless Rundown of Life Insurance Jargon
18. Term: This type of Life Insurance covers you for a set amount of time; example: if you have a 20-year plan, and you keep up payment and die within those 20 years, then it pays out.
19. Whole Life/Permanent: This never expires; you either pay it all at once, which is expensive, or in installments, which is also expensive, but either way, it lasts forever.
20. Death Benefits: Also known more pleasantly as "survivor benefits," this is the amount of money that's paid to a beneficiary from a Life Insurance policy after an insured person has died.
21. Riders: Insurance riders are additional provisions, usually at a cost, that customize a standard policy. This is like adding power windows, satellite radio, and heated seats to a car.
22. Accelerated Death Benefit: This provides financial assistance if you get really, really sick and need money for treatment.
23. Accidental Death Benefit (Double Indemnity): Your beneficiaries will receive an additional payout, often double the amount they’d normally receive, if your death occurs as the result of an accident. If “Danger” is your middle name, you not only had really cool parents but you also might want to consider purchasing this rider.
24. Family Income Benefit: Rather than paying benefits in a lump sum, this pays out in installments. If you’re concerned about your beneficiaries’ money management skills, this is a way for you to keep a modicum of financial control from beyond the grave.
25. Long-Term Care: This adds coverage for potential long-term care needs that otherwise wouldn’t be part of the the initial policy. It might not be sexy, but it can be quite handy if you don’t want to buy a separate dedicated long-term care (LTC) policy.
Feel The Surge Of Power
Say it out loud: Power Of Attorney. So official. So empowering. So fiduciarily responsible. Is it getting warm in here?
26. A POA goes into effect when you need financial decisions made but you’re not in the right condition to make them. You could be sick, traveling, or handcuffed to a coffee-colored chaise longue. Your reasons are your own.
27. Durable Power of Attorney: This goes into effect the moment the paperwork is signed and kicks in if you’re deemed mentally incompetent.
28. Non-Durable Power of Attorney: This is used when you need someone to take care of a specific financial or legal goal and expires if or when you’re declared mentally incompetent. It could be as simple as filing a tax return, or as complex as closing a business deal while you’re otherwise preoccupied.
29. The person named as your POA must be someone you trust with your financial life. This is like revealing you’re extremely ticklish to a person who’d never exploit that knowledge when you’re most vulnerable. Or maybe they will because it’s fun to watch you squirm and laugh like a maniac. But they’d never exploit your money. Because that would be going too far.
Just Trust Us
Trusts are about maintaining control. Raar!
30. People set up Trusts to minimize estate taxes, avoid Probate, and seamlessly transfer assets to heirs. That's, um, quite erotic. (This 50 Shades concept is a lot tougher than we thought. But we’ll power through.)
Trusts are a group activity. Here are the required players:
31. Grantor: The powerful being who creates the Trust (also known as “donor,” “settlor,” “trustor”).
32. Trustee: The person, people, or entity (such as a bank) that holds the property or assets. Tantalizing tidbit: The grantor may be the Trustee.
33. Principal: The money, property, or other assets held in the Trust and managed by the Trustee(s).
34. Beneficiary: The person or people who ultimately receive the property or assets in the Trust. In other words, payday!
What Type Do You Desire?
35. Revocable (Dominant): You retain ownership and control of the property in the Trust and can change it whenever you want.
36. Irrevocable (Submissive): You relinquish control of the property in the Trust to others (Trustees) and no longer own or control the property.
Find A Professional Partner
37. Knowing how a Trust works is one thing, creating one is an entirely different ball of dripping wax. Get in touch with a financial planner, trust and estate attorney, or another money professional to set it up correctly.
Your emails, photos, videos, and entertainment purchases are all part of your saucy Digital Estate. If you want all of this stuff to disappear into an abyss after you’re gone, do nothing. If you want it to live on, keep track of all your accounts.
Behold, here’s a list of possible account types with examples in parentheses. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but you’re so very welcome.
38. Email/communications (Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, work-based, personally hosted, Skype, WhatsApp)
39. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tinder)
40. Shopping (Amazon, Ebay, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Fresh Direct, Seamless)
41. Payment/money management (PayPal, Google Wallet, Mint, LearnVest, WePay)
42. Cloud Storage (Dropbox, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, SugarSync, Box)
43. Video/Music/Gaming (Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus)
44. Blogging/hosting (Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress, GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Bluehost)
45. Software Licenses (Microsoft Office, iWorks, Adobe CS, Quickbooks, Turbo Tax, Antivirus Software)
46. All your devices! While we’ll never make you reveal your password to us, what would happen to your cell phone, tablet, or computer if you died? Have you shared the login info with anyone? Perhaps you should so these shiny gadgets, and all the irreplaceable memories within, aren’t wiped clean.
We’re about to break the rules
Normally, people have to sign up for our newsletter to access exclusive checklists and worksheets. But we're not feeling very normal. Plus, you’ve been so good you deserve a reward: Digital And Online Accounts Worksheet
Odds And Ends
We’re nearing the end of our hedonistic planning journey. Time for some housekeeping.
47. Imagine your home without you. How would the bills get paid, the power stay on, the land remain scaped? You do more on a regular basis than anyone else realizes. You probably don’t even take stock of all you do because you’re so busy doing it.
You must identify all of these things and make sure life can carry on after you’re gone. We refuse to let you think of this as sad or morbid. By planning ahead it proves you have the strength to allow your family and loved ones to move forward the best way possible.
48. Never forget your pets. These loveable creatures rely on you for everything. Make a plan for them in case something happens to you or we’ll never talk to you again. For real. We’re not playing.
49. There’s more to your life than stuff. There are memories, family lineage, recipes, tips, and overall wisdom to pass down to other generations. The fancy pants people of this world call it an Ethical Will, which is fine until the world accepts our new name for it: “The Fantastical, Magical, and Mysterious Life Lessons of [YOUR NAME HERE].”
Had enough? Go ahead and use the safeword...
50. Deputy. Why is this one word so important? Because everything we listed above, and so much more, is included in an Everplan. The person or people you share it with are just as important as the information itself. In our world, this person is called a Deputy.
You can be the most organized person in the world, but if you don’t let the people in your life know any of your plans or decisions then you’ll be rendered completely powerless. We refuse to accept this outcome so take charge and get planning. Or we’re totally gonna tickle you with feathers.