Revisiting Estate Planning

Often the executor (or executrix) of one’s estate is a family member who has to cope with the death of a loved one while carrying out their duties as the executor. However, there are important steps you can take to make things as easy as possible.

Estate planning must go beyond wills and attorneys. It is also about knowing the exact location of the other important papers, or at least organizing to make things easier for your heirs. We all grieve differently, and there’s nothing worse than trying to cope with a loss and not being able to find the things you need to apply for entitlements and probate.

Here are some suggestions:
• Type a list of all your assets and liabilities and update it each year. Include account numbers and addresses of all the financial institutions. Make sure you include any online investment accounts that you may not have printed statements for.
• Include this list in a file with every single important document – will, house deed, car registrations, insurance policies (or a list of all policies), tax returns, investments, utilities, credit cards and so on.
• Prepare a list, with phone numbers and addresses, of all people to be contacted in the event of your passing. Your insurance advisor, lawyer, investment broker, business partners, etc.

Once you have compiled the lists and gathered the documents, keep them in an accordion file. And let your family members and your executor know the location of this file!

Wills and powers of attorney are just the beginning. By taking these steps you can make things a lot easier for your family members at a very difficult time.