Estate planning is a time-consuming and labor-intensive endeavor.
The initial steps involve cataloging your possessions and determining how to distribute them among your loved ones.
Next, you’ll need to consult with your team of advisers, such as attorneys, accountants, trust officers, and insurance agents, to finalize your plans.
Being diligent, you’ll regularly review your estate plan to account for changes in family circumstances, personal finances, and tax laws, making adjustments as needed. You’ll ensure every detail is perfect.
However, despite your meticulous planning and clear intentions, your family may still face challenges in executing your wishes—unless you follow two crucial steps.
The First Step
Where should you store the original document?
Keeping it at home risks accidental destruction or loss among other papers.
Storing it in a safe deposit box could lead to legal complications after your passing, potentially hindering immediate access.
Leaving it at your attorney’s office poses risks if they’re a solo practitioner, as they could pass away or relocate.
A law firm may agree to store your will, but remember to retrieve it if you sever ties and seek services elsewhere.
If you designate a trust institution as executor, deposit the original with them and keep unsigned copies with your attorney and records for future reference.
The Second Step
Develop a document locator: a comprehensive list that grants your family access to essential information for executing your estate plan. Your document locator should include the following information:
- Contact information for key financial professionals and details about your debts, such as credit card providers, card numbers, and mortgage, auto, and other loans.
- The location of your will and other crucial documents, such as tax returns, Social Security information, business agreements, and estate deeds. Identify your safe deposit box’s whereabouts and list who can access it, along with an inventory of its contents.
- Guidance on the storage of your investment records, including the names and addresses of all financial institutions where you hold savings, checking, or investment accounts.
- Clearly stated types of investments, account numbers, account names, and opening dates. Indicate the storage locations for account statements, passbooks, and securities certificates.
- Note who possesses spare keys to your home or car and provide additional relevant details. Remind your loved ones to contact your employer so the benefits department can initiate necessary procedures.
- Consider attaching a letter to the document locator outlining your preferences for funeral and burial arrangements.
Create multiple copies of your document locator, distributing them to your executor and relevant family members. Storing one in your safe deposit box is also a good idea.
Lastly, don’t forget to update the document locator annually to maintain its accuracy.
Estate planning can be a confusing and time-consuming endeavor. Our estate planning services can simplify the process and give you confidence that your plan meets your goals and aligns with your wishes.
If you are a Legacy client and have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Legacy advisor. If you are not a Legacy client and are interested in learning more about our approach to personalized wealth management, please contact us at 920.967.5020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Any developments occurring after July 1, 2022, are not reflected in this article.
This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only.
It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.