Whether your estate planning documents are simple or run for a hundred pages or more, a key element to both is having them organized. As I always say to my clients and seminar attendees – if people can’t find your documents, then it is as though you never completed them. Here are 5 tips on organizing yourself:
One, purchase a three-ring binder and subject dividers. Mark the dividers “will”, “powers of attorney”, “instructions”, “beneficiary forms”, “important people to contact”, etc. Behind each tab place the appropriate documentation.
Two, if you put your will in a safe deposit box make sure you have a copy in your personal papers (that three-ring binder) that is clearly marked “COPY”, and indicates where the original is kept.
Three, make a list of all the bills you pay on-line. Should something happen to you, your personal representative likely will not have access to your email account, making it harder to track down those accounts, close them, and pay them off.
Four, make a list of your financial holdings. Include institution name, type of account, and a contact number. As your assets change over time make sure you update this list. Again, keep this in the binder listed above or in another obvious spot.
Five, tell people where they can find your documents. They do not need to know what they say, just where they can find them if something unexpected happens.
These simple steps can dramatically assist your friends and loved ones during what would be a very difficult time.