1. Don't Leave a Mess For Your Family!
You clean up your dirty dishes everyday and take your trash cans out to the street everyday so you do not leave a mess for your family. Maybe you even get some help from your children. Your children grow up and have their own children to assist.
You may be at a point in your life when your life is less complicated and you have less “messes” to clean up. Your life circumstances can change quickly without warning due to illness, accident or even death. You certainly do not want to leave a mess for your family in the event you become incapacitated and when you pass away.
Have you organized all of your financial and legal documents? Are your children in a position to be able to carry on for you if something happens to you? If so, then congratulations, but make sure you keep your records up-to-date. If no, then now if the time to clean up your “mess”.
2. Where is Everything?
Assuming you are an organized person, you still need to inform your family where all of your important documents are located. This includes estate planning documents like your original will and trust; financial documents like bank/investment statements, insurance policies , retirement account statements and legal documents such as deeds and title certificates.
3. Prepare a List
Make a detailed list of your important documents and records. Make sure your family knows where your list is located and keep it current. Be sure to consider these practical items:
- A list of important professional contacts including your banker, attorney and financial adviser
- Your desire for funeral arrangements
- The location of family heirlooms, photographs and other important family items; and
- The location of keys to any storage facilities or safe deposit boxes
- A list of your online account usernames and passwords
4. Create a System to Guide Your Family
Once you have thoroughly organized all of your affairs, you must create a clear and easily accessible system to guide your family. This could be a notebook or an inventory program on your computer. If you use a notebook or similar method, be sure you keep it in a safe place such as a fireproof safe or safe deposit box. You also need to inform the key members of your family about your existing records and any new records.
If you have questions about estate planning, contact Kent W. Keating at [email protected] or call 805.719.2246.
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