Tips for Getting Organized with your Estate Plan
This guide gives you a step by step path for organizing your affairs so that something happens to you, your loved ones are well equipped to handle settling your affairs.
Where Do I Put All of my Stuff?Have you ever noticed that we display our stuff in our homes, but the important things we often hide? Our jewelry we might put in a safe deposit box or hide in a drawer in the event our place is broken into. Our financial documents we hide in drawers or shred to protect our identity. We do not share our passcodes to anyone. These are all good techniques when we are alive, but when we die this type of action creates a mess for the people we leave behind. Often times, assets are lost or overlooked because no one knows they exist.
To avoid this situation, you want to create a go-to plan for where you put all of your stuff. A safe deposit box is a great place to have a thumb drive with your estate planning documents, the business card of your lawyer, your passport, birth certificate and a list of your assets, debts and passwords. If you don't have a safe deposit box, then you might consider having all of this in a home safe. A simplified version is to have all of your asset/debt/estate planning information in one binder. My family knows that if I am traveling and "the plane goes down", they are to go to my trust binder on my bookshelf in my home office. That binder has everything they need (including letters to every person who is important to me in my life).
What Stuff Do I Need to GatherWherever you decide to place your "stuff", you should 1) consolidate it into one location and 2) share that location with you successor fiduciary who will be responsible for settling your affairs. Your "stuff" should include:
1. Your trust (or will if you don't have a trust)
2. Your guardian nominations for your minor children, if applicable
3. Your power of attorney for financial matters
4. Your medical directive for medical matters
5. Your HIPAA release for medical matters
6. A list of your assets (along with whether they are in your trust or if they have beneficiaries designations associated with them). Examples: bank accounts (Bank name, account type, account number).
7. A list of your life insurance policies
8. A list of your retirement accounts
9. A list of your liability policies (auto, home, umbrella, etc) and who your agent is
10. A list of anyone who owes you money and how much (include a promissory note, if applicable)
12. A list of any royalties, trademarks or patents
13. A list of any business interests
14. A list of your current debts
15. A list of your current medications
16. A list of your physicians contact information
17. A list of people you would want contacted
18. A list of what you want done after you pass (obituary, funeral, burial/cremation)