Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Easing the Burden When You Are Gone

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Creating an estate plan is a step that less than half of adult Americans have taken.  It is estimated that around 55% of Americans do not have a will.  However, even if you are in the minority of people who have created an estate plan, there are always more things you can do to make your departure less difficult for loved ones left behind.   For example:

  • organize your papers in one central folder or binder that is clearly marked Estate Planning Documents;
  • inform your personal representative / executor / trustee about the location of said binder;
  • include copies of all beneficiary forms for your life insurance, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, and other financial service instruments;
  • provide contact information for those you would like notified of your passing.  I for example include an up-to-date holiday card address list so people could receive a letter or copy of an obituary;
  • list on-line assets, such auto debit for your mortgage;
  • include names and contact information for your tax accountant and the location of your latest tax return; and
  • list phone numbers for guardians of children, pets, or trustees of testamentary trusts.
Having a will in place is a great step towards easing the pain of your passing, but adding a few little items like this can make a huge difference in the time and effort put forth by the person you leave in charge.

Thanks for reading, and remember that a blog is not an attorney.  Please consult a lawyer in your state for advice specific to your situation.

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