Will They Know What to do When You’re Gone?
The last few years, and the reality of fatherhood, has brought me to give a lot more thought to the legacy that I leave behind for my wife and kids. In my own personal search to understand what would need to be understood by those left behind after I am gone, I have taken myself and many of my clients on a path to put together their own Estate Planning book. The old saying that the mechanic has the least maintained vehicle in the parking lot, leads me to humility when there is no excuse for a Financial Advisor to have the least organized Estate Plan.
The vision and intent of a good Estate Plan is to allow your Executor the knowledge and information to close and distribute your remaining assets to your beneficiaries. They also should be able to close probate inside of a year. Many times, if you have been an Executor, or spoken to someone who has played this important role, you hear only horror stories of the delay in locating everything and waiting for the courts to solidify the end.
What should this Estate Planning book include?
- Copies of Birth Certificates/Marriage Licenses
- Copies of SS Cards/Driver’s Licenses
- Copies of Insurance cards and policy related information
- Bank accounts including HSA/FSA documentation
- Copies of household investments and their named beneficiaries
- Monthly bills and the payment method that they have
- Copies of Life insurance policies and the intention of them
- Copies of Wills/POAs/Trusts and other relevant legal documents
- Copies of Vehicle titles/Liens
- Usernames and passwords to online accounts including account PINs
- Explanations to where the originals to all the above exist
Additionally, I found and experienced the value to have copies of everything that exists in your wallet or purse. This chapter, so called “What’s in my Wallet,” has saved the day for me once before. If you have ever lost your wallet, you know the panic you feel to trying to remember what was in your wallet. Copies of front and back of everything will make the effort of getting your life back to normal much less painful.
Lasty, we never get the chance to say what we want when we are gone. Don’t forget to include a personal letter or note to the loved ones in your life that would love to hear one last word of wisdom from you.
Working with a Financial Advisor should give you the comfort in knowing that when your gone, there is a “teammate ready to step in to finish the game for you.” Make sure your “teammate” is helping you through this. It will be the greatest decision you have ever made.