Getting your affairs in order includes creating order from chaos when it comes to personal papers, legal and financial records. If you are already a hyper-organized person, so much the better for your family!
Imagine yourself digging through decades of financial documents, unable to locate recent paper statements and having no idea where the title to your parent’s car is. That’s why an article in The Washington Post, “How to organize your home and finances in your estate,” advises that getting organized is just as much a part of estate planning as having wills and other necessary documents prepared.
First, start with your personal effects and personal financial information. You should make sure that your documents and files are in good order. This includes items like credit card statements, bank statements and auto titles. Everything that you’d need to know should be in one place and labeled neatly. This makes it easy to find everything required to settle your affairs after you pass away.
Next, sort through your personal effects and be sure you know what you have and what you need. If you don’t, it will be no easy feat for your children to take care of your estate and clean things out of your home. This can be a great help to your family later on. As you decide what you should keep and what should go, you’ll also be making your home less cluttered and easier to live in!
The next step is to make sure that what you own is passed down according to your wishes. If you have an estate that includes a home, bank accounts, retirement accounts and a car, make sure to designate a beneficiary on any retirement account, life insurance policy or annuity. Those types of accounts will then pass automatically to the designated beneficiary upon your death solely with the presentation of your death certificate.
You can place your home and other personal effects into a living trust that allows for the transfer of ownership of those items automatically upon your death to the person designated in the trust.
You can also have an estate planning attorney draft a will that states who you want to get your home and personal effects upon your death.
An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you determine whether or not you need to incorporate trusts into your estate plan, or if a will is more suitable. Whether your estate is complex or simple, a well-planned estate includes both the legal documents necessary to achieve your wishes and to properly distribute your assets and well-organized documents that will help your heirs as they work to settle your estate.
Reference: The Washington Post (November 14, 2016) “How to organize your home and finances in your estate”