Taking steps to provide for my family should I die

As a responsible woman, I want to take care of my finances to make sure that I am always prepared for anything. As a full-time bankruptcy paralegal, I know the dangers of not living by a budget, over-spending, and not planning for retirement. However, as a wife and mother I was falling short of my responsibility to my family - - I was planning for being with them forever instead of making sure they would be taken care of in the event that I died. As a mother and wife, I never like to think about leaving my family but I must in order to make sure I do the necessary things to take care of them if they lose me.

Things a mom must do now to provide for her family in the future

1. Prepare a Last Will and Testament - I do not want anyone else deciding how my property is divided upon my death but me. I have certain items that I want my daughter to have, my sister and my mother. Furthermore, without a Will state law will govern my probate estate and make the decisions for me. I consulted a probate attorney to draft my Will so that I took advantage of every law that would maximize my estate for my family by decreasing taxes and fees.

2. Name a Guardian and Trustee - My husband and I had not named a guardian in the event that we both died. This is extremely important because I do not want the care of our daughter left up to social services to decide. A guardian is the person who will physically care for your child while the trustee is the person who will manage their money. We also added a clause that our daughter will not receive her inheritance until she is older in hopes that should something happen to us her trustee would manage her funds until she is older, wiser and more mature.

3. Have sufficient life insurance - I met with my insurance agent to determine how much life insurance I would need to provide for my family should I die while my daughter is young. We determined that I should at least have term coverage in an amount to pay off our mortgage, any other miscellaneous bills, pay for my daughter's college education and provide income for my husband until my daughter was old enough to be on her own.

4. Create and contribute to a college savings plan - Providing for my daughter's education is important to me so I also created a 529 plan and contribute to it regularly to ensure she has the funds to attend college. If something should happen to me, then she will have this as well as life insurance but hopefully I will be here to watch her graduate college and for a long time after.

5. Prepay funeral costs - Arranging for and prepaying funeral costs takes the burden off my family during a time of grief. Leaving behind a letter with detailed instructions of my wishes for my funeral will also help ease the burden on them during a difficult time.

No one likes to think about his or her death; however, as a wife and mother I must do so in order to provide for my family after my death. In addition to the above, I regularly update my master list of account numbers, policy numbers, contact information and important papers so that my family will have everything they need if necessary. However, the most important thing I do to take care of my family is to make sure they know that I love them and I spend each day with them creating good memories that will last forever.