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Don't you hate it when someone tells you how a movie will end? Spoiler alert: One day, we're all going to die.

"Never," you say. Well, we reviewed the statistics, and they're convincing. The exception is Pat Sajak, who appears to be immortal. Here's what you need to know.


Since you're probably alive, take the time now to review a few items to save your loved ones extra difficulties later.

A legal document that explains who gets your stuff (and kids) after you die.

Power of Attorney:
A legal document to give someone authority to act on your behalf (pay bills, etc).

Living will (advance directive):
A legal document which describes your preferences for end-of-life care (e.g. do you want to be kept alive via a feeding tube?).

Life insurance:
A policy that pays someone money if you die.

Organ donor instructions:
If you want to donate your organs when you die, update your driver's license (or living will).

Since most of your financial information is online, write down your passwords on a tree product called "paper".

When You Die

Since the authors of this topic are (currently) alive, we don't actually know what happens when you pass away. But millions of people have clinically died (their hearts and breathing have stopped) yet survived to describe their near-death experiences.

Are these stories for real? Who knows, but the experience is surprisingly consistent across cultures and age groups:

- an awareness of being dead
- an out-of-body experience (floating while watching doctors work on their bodies)
- movement toward a powerful light (sometimes through a tunnel)
- intense feelings of peace and unconditional love
- a fleeting view of their entire life histories (just not on Facebook)
- a sensation of sharing experiences with every person they have known
- new spiritual insights into the universe and all things

To learn more, search the web for "near-death experience." Or just sign up for a skydiving class.

If you're depressed reading this stuff, don't despair. Death jokes aren't funny, so we ask you to imagine ten fluffy kittens to lift your spirits. Go ahead, imagine them.

Now, watch those kittens play. Oh my goodness, one just fell over. Isn't he cute?


Funerals can be crazy expensive, but you have a number of affordable options.

Pyramid burial (under $5 billion):
Hire 30,000 laborers over twenty years to build a four-hundred-foot-tall pyramid with limestone blocks.

Traditional service (up to $10,000):
The traditional funeral involves embalming (preserving the body for viewing), viewing of the body, a formal funeral service, transportation by hearse, and burial.

Direct burial (often under $4,000):
The body is buried shortly after death within a simple container. Since there is no viewing, embalming is unnecessary.

Cremation (often under $4,000):
Burning the body before or after a viewing creates remains that can be stored in an urn, scattered at sea, or even made into works of art or jewelry.

Donating to science (often free):
Donate your body to a medical school for teaching and research (search for "anatomical gift program").

Imagine those kittens again. Oh dear, did two of them just kiss when they bopped their noses? That's so precious.


If a family member dies, you may be surprised to discover that you've been named the "executor" of his or her estate. The what?

As the executor, you'll handle the property, pay debts and taxes, and distribute what's left to those who are entitled to it. Even if you feel an obligation, you can decline this role, and the job will pass to someone else.

If you accept these duties, rely on the help of others to lessen your work. Where do you start?

Your family member may have a will and/or a living will. Locate these documents for funeral and burial instructions.

Funeral director:
This professional is paid to handle many of the duties you'd never considered.

If your loved one had an accountant, attorney, or insurance agent, contact him or her for help and direction.

Story Time

When Bert was at a county fair, he was excited to spend only $5 for a psychic to help him communicate with his dead grandfather.

"Can you ask him if he still plays cards?" Bert asked nervously as he munched on a deep-fried Oreo.

"Yes! He plays, um, bridge all the time..." The psychic paused to read Bert's face, but saw only his normal dumb look. "I mean, rummy? War? Pinochle? Go Fish? Crazy Eights?"

"Yes!" Bert exclaimed. "He loved Crazy Eights! You're amazing! By the way, is he still following his favorite team?"