When we think of estate planning, we often think of the legal documents involved such as the will, trust, power of attorney, etc. However, good estate planning goes beyond that. When we pass, our families are often left to figure out a lot of things, even when an estate plan exists. Getting organized can help reduce the stress and confusion that your family members will face. Here are some helpful tips on organizing non-legal aspects of your estate.
1 – Organize Documents
Although your estate plan may reference certain assets, they are unlikely to contain copies of them. Make it easy for your family to find these by organizing them into appropriate folders and storing them in safe but easy to find location, such as a locked filing cabinet in your home office. Examples of such documents are:
- Bank Accounts
- Investment & Retirement Accounts
- Stocks & Bonds
- Mutual Funds
- Insurance Policies
In today’s digital age, you may also have electronic statements. Make a note on where those are stored, such as in your email or in a specific folder on your computer. You may also need to share usernames and passwords in an emergency. Consider a password sharing tool such as LastPass. They offer an emergency access option where you can designate authorized users ahead of time.
2 – List Assets
Some assets may not have monthly or quarterly statements. This includes bonds, family heirlooms, and other physical assets. It’s a good idea to create a list of those assets and where they are stored, such as in safe deposit boxes or off-site storage units. If you keep keys hidden, make sure a trusted person knows where to find them should something happen to you.
3 – Note Preferences
An important aspect of estate planning that is often forgotten are some basic matters such as contact lists and funeral preferences. Will your family know who to notify in case of your death? Do they know where you wish to be buried? Or what type of funeral service you would prefer? Noting your thoughts and preferences can help your family with some difficult decisions.
More Tips on Organizing Non-legal Aspects of Your Estate
Getting organized prevents your family from scrambling to find information and struggling with decisions. It’s one more way that you can help them through what will be a difficult time. Your personal circumstances may be unique and may involve some things that we have not mentioned above. As part of our estate planning services, we can suggest other ways to organize non-legal aspects of your estate. Please contact us to schedule a