Estate planning is one of those things you need to do.
Estate planning is one of those things you know you need to do but keep putting off. You’ll find this task easier by breaking it down into three essentials: organizing your financial information, communicating your plans and, of course, taking action.
• Get organized
Create an organized record that details your accounts and legal documents, so your family can easily locate them.
The list could include:
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• Professional and family contacts
• Location of estate documents
• Disability and life insurance
• Home and auto insurance
• List of financial institutions, accounts and account numbers
• Credit cards
• Beneficiaries of retirement accounts
• User names and passwords (including those to social-media websites or online-photo storage)
• Discuss with family
Any time you update your estate documents, communication is key. When you name your friends or family members to any role in your plan, you should notify them right away. Confirm that they are willing to take on the responsibilities of the roles and explain your intentions.
Discussing these matters with children can be sensitive. Here are tips on how to make the conversations age-appropriate:
• For children in high school and college, let them know that you have plans in place. Tell them who you name to important roles (grandparents, aunts and uncles) and why.
• For young adult children, you may choose to name them to primary roles in your documents. Let them know if you plan to do so, and show openness to engaging them in this discussion in the years to come.
• As children reach middle age, giving them full knowledge of your financial situation is important. Mature adult children can help parents navigate the challenges that come with aging.
• Take action
Proactive planning requires careful consideration of possible future scenarios and a good understanding of yourself and your family. It also involves communicating your wishes to those close to you. While your advisers can encourage these conversations, ultimately you must take action.
Finding the time to discuss death and finances is difficult and unpleasant. But since one never knows what the future holds, it is best to be prepared.