Life After Your Death – Part 2 

Nobody ever really wants to talk about dying, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it.When you get married and, more importantly, when you have children, are good times to put down on paper your final wishes. Experts say planning for the unthinkable can help your family though the pain of loss. From the start of parenthood, Johneen and Mike Eckardt of Orono have had a will to help protect their family. With their three sons out of the house, some of that focus has shifted, but managing their affairs is still a priority. Mike Eckardt says, “What we have done is not just do a will or estate planning, we’ve discussed it with all of our sons so they understand what we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.”Estate planning lawyer Jennifer Eastman says top of the list for parents is writing in their will who will take care of the children in case they die before the kids are grown, then setting up a trust to meet the kids needs. “In what would be a horrific emotional time for your family, your family’s not in court battling over who’s going to be named as guardian and conservator of your children.””Your baby shouldn’t have to be sitting there saying gee, I wonder who I’m going to live with,” says Financial planner Marion Syversen. “I’ve got a friend who I adore. Her mom died when she was 12 years old. They knew her mom was going to die. Nobody in the family wanted to face it so they made no plan. She did not live with people who loved her.”Syversen also encourages clients to line up end of life documents with their retirement funds and other accounts, which are contracts outside of a will.”So it doesn’t matter if you want it all to go to Aunt Millie, if you’ve left it to your favorite pet cemetery, it’s going to go to your favorite pet cemetery if that’s what your IRA beneficiary reads.”The Eckardts have taken their estate planning a step further – setting up financial trusts for each of their grandchildren. “That will actually begin when they’re very young, but they won’t mature until they retire and we like that idea of setting up something that would accrue money to when people really need it now.”They’ve also set up a trust fund to pay for family reunions. Eastman says Johneen and Mike are a good examples of being creative when it comes to taking control of your estate, even though putting your wishes into action is something no one really cares to consider. Eastman says, “The downside of my job is that I always have to think about the worst case scenarios, but if you can think about them and plan for them, you don’t have to worry about them.”More importantly, Syversen says you don’t have to leave that worry to your family. “When you’ve got a family, love them enough to do this boring, tedious stuff. You’ve got to do what you’re capable of doing, what you’re financially able to afford. but you have to try to have some kind of a plan, because lives depend on it, lives depend on it.”For more information on estate planning you can log on to For financial planning information, check out