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Death and Taxes - Tips to Save Your Sanity

  • Published: 2011-04-01 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-24) : Gail Rubin.
  • Synopsis: Simple steps to relieve the stress related to the unavoidable prospects of death and taxes.

Main Document

Quote: "Smart taxpayers look at all the angles for making the most of deductions before the end of the year."

Death and taxes are life's two certainties, and Gail Rubin, "The Doyenne of Death," suggests five simple steps to relieve the stress related to these unavoidable prospects.

"April 15 comes around every year," says Rubin. "While death and taxes are both inevitable, we get much more practice preparing our taxes than doing funeral planning or organizing memorial services."

Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die, speaks regularly to groups on getting the funeral planning conversation started. She offers these five tips to reduce the stress of addressing death and taxes:

1. Deal with it:

Neither the Tax Man nor the Grim Reaper will wait when the appointed time comes. Just as talking about sex won't make you pregnant, talking about funerals won't make you dead.

2. Plan ahead to save money:

Smart taxpayers look at all the angles for making the most of deductions before the end of the year. Smart consumers pre-plan their funerals so they know the substantial costs involved and can figure out how to afford a meaningful "good goodbye."

3. Collect important information:

Taxpayers who place all their W-2, 1098, 1099 and other tax forms in one place make it easier when it's time to file. Have one place for the will, advance directives, veteran discharge papers, personal information, and people to contact - it makes it much easier having important information all in one place.

4. Keep good records:

Knowing your income and expenses for the year simplifies accurate, complete tax preparation. Knowing a person's birthplace, social security number, mother's maiden name, family contacts, and other information can save family members much stress at a time of grief.

5. Make it meaningful:

Charitable contributions made before the end of the year can help reduce taxes while helping the taxpayer's favorite causes. Discussing preferences for an end-of-life celebration, before there's any death or illness, gives family members helpful insights to create a meaningful ceremony when the time comes.

To get organized, download a free planning form from Rubin's website, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die is available at the special discounted price of $15.00 (plus $3 shipping) until Tax Day, April 15, 2011.

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