Immediately following the death of a loved one, emotions generally run high, which can lead to confusion and chaos.[i] Delaying making estate planning arrangements may cause unnecessary hardship and grieving survivors to lose portions of their inheritance in probate.
“Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes,” wrote Christopher Bullock in his 1716 book, The Cobler of Preston.
Putting your estate in order will ensure your assets go to your appointed heirs as opposed to the government.
When the inevitable happens and your estate is not in order, circumstances can turn sour. Proper management of your estate may provide you with the peace of mind now and give your family the security to manage their future in your absence.
Where is the paperwork?
You obtained life insurance to protect your family and to take care of family members’ needs. You may have arranged your investments and other financial accounts to help your loved ones live more secure futures.
Obviously, if something were to happen to you, your family would need access to your accounts and your estate planning documents. They would need to know where to go, what to do, and how to obtain the necessary information.
Prepare now for your family’s future by storing your financial information and your legal documents in a safe place. Inform designated loved ones where and how to access login information and passwords to online accounts.
Here’s an estate planning checklist:
• Do you have a will?
• Where do you keep it?
• Where are your health-care documents?
• What about your other financial paperwork?
• Are the beneficiary forms accessible?
• Is your life insurance adequate and is it the appropriate type?
• Have you made arrangements to cover your estate taxes or other potential fees?
• Do you have a written letter of instruction?
What about your memorial service?
Discuss with your family the type of memorial service you’d like to have. Ideally, you’d like one that suits your personality and reflects your life.
While the idea of talking about your funeral may seem uncomfortable, once finished, most families find these types of discussions comforting and reassuring.
Here are some estate planning tips to help you find the best funeral services for your circumstances:
• Compare prices.
• Get a quote. Funeral homes are required by law to provide written price information.
• Resist the temptation—or the sales pitch—to buy services you don’t need.
• Don’t let your emotions lead you to overspending.
• Know your rights. States’ legal requirements vary.
• Shop for memorial services in the same manner as you would with other major purchases.
• Plan ahead, which allows you to comparison shop.
Where can you find help?
Financial professionals can provide you with insight, guidance, and information to help you overcome the obstacles and challenges that you may confront as you develop one of the most important plans in your life. While most financial professionals are not attorneys, they do work closely with experienced legal and tax professionals to give you the peace of mind to ensure your end-of-life concerns are put in order.
If you have financial questions or are making estate planning preparations, contact us today!