Unfortunately, none of us are getting out of this alive. Death is a certainty; we don’t know when it will come, but death will occur. Planning for this certainty is not a pleasant task, but it is a crucial one.
I frequently meet with surviving spouses, children, or friends who, at a time when they are grieving, are left to guess at what must be done. I’ve been greeted by many of these survivors with boxes of documents: unorganized bank statements, life insurance statements from decades past, and a host of other potential assets that they haven’t the foggiest idea of whether exist or not.
The people we name as successor trustees or executors of our estates are, generally, people we care for. One of the kindest things we can do for these folks is to leave a “roadmap” of steps to take when the inevitable occurs. The first step is to have a plan in place; a comprehensive plan deals not with just death, but incapacity as well. This means that all estate planning documents, including powers of attorney, are up to date.
Next, a complete list of assets (and clear detail of asset ownership) is crucial. It is far more expensive to have an attorney sift through old asset information than it is to simply keep a good, current list of what you own for your successor trustee or executor. That list should include current assets and titling, along with any applicable beneficiary designations. Remember: before your distribution wishes are followed, the assets to be distributed must be determined.
We live in an increasingly digital society. To that end, a list of logins and passwords for your successor is extraordinarily helpful. A password sheet or password service can alleviate quite a bit of headache in wrapping up your matters.
Finally, a personal note as to final wishes (burial and/or funeral services) is helpful. The folks responsible for arranging services are grieving; any guidance you give regarding your wishes reduces the decision-making burden.
A review of your plan, including your contingency day checklist, is a task that will not only give you piece of mind, but will make things easier for those you care for. Call our office for an appointment to review your plan and ensure your affairs are in order.
Contributed by Morris Hall PLLC Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney, Andrea L. Claus.
About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Green Valley, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.
- What You Need to Know about the Arizona Probate Process - September 7, 2017
- Contingency Day Checklist - October 27, 2016
- Make Things Easier for Those Left Behind: Leave a “Map” - March 29, 2016
Charles Filteau says
You mentioned “boxes of documents.”
As West Hunsaker said in one of his meetings; Please, Please go through all of your piles of OLD financial records and throw anything out that is no longer pertinent. There is nothing worse than forcing an executor of an estate to spend hours and hours going through reams and reams of paper looking for a something in that pile that might be pertinent. Thank You West!