Last month, our blog spent some time examining a few of the key documents that together can form the core of a solid estate plan, something that provides family and friends with much-needed clarity during otherwise difficult times.
While it’s true that things like a living trust and advanced healthcare directive can make life easier for your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are granted, it’s important for people to understand that there are other key steps they will want to consider taking before they declare themselves ready to move on from estate planning.
The prospect of planning your own funeral — from the service to the arrangements for your body — may seem a bit morbid, but this relatively simple step can make a real difference going forward. Indeed, making these plans during a time of relative calm can ensure that your ceremony reflects your beliefs and, more importantly, spare your family from having to guess as to what you might have wanted.
List of assets
While you may have executed a simple will or set up a living trust dictating how your assets are to be divided upon your death, either the executor of your estate or the trustee will still need to know where the assets are physically located and how to access them.
As such, taking the time to create a simple list outlining all of your assets and where they can be found can make all the difference.
In fact, experts also advise people to create a digital inventory.
List of contacts
While it’s obvious to you what family members and friends will need to be contacted in the event of your demise, this may not be true for the executor/trustee or those in charge of preparing your final arrangements. The same could also be said when it comes to managing your estate, as the names of advisors or other interested financial parties may be known only to you.
Accordingly, it may be advisable to create a sort of contact list outlining the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of all people who should be notified of your passing for personal, professional and financial reasons.
While your basic estate plan will cover the majority of your assets, it’s important to understand that others like the proceeds of a life insurance policy or retirement plans will be distributed according to the beneficiary forms.
As such, anyone with these types of assets will want to determine whether they’ve named a primary beneficiary as well as contingent beneficiaries. This step is especially important if you’ve experienced major family changes such as divorce and/or remarriage.
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you would like to learn more about the estate planning process.