One of the most common reasons people plan their estates is to make things easier for their loved ones. Preparing and executing estate planning documents is just the first step to providing your family with peace of mind. Making sure your family has all the information they need is really the key to completing an effective estate plan.
Estate planning is not simply about Wills and Trusts. It is about assets, asset titling, and asset structure. The estate planning documents play the role of designating who has access, control, and benefits from those assets.
One service that our firm offers to clients is ongoing support to their family. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for our attorneys to be speaking with the client’s family members once they have become incapacitated or passed away. When consulting with my clients family members, it means they have Power of Attorney documents, a Last Will and Testament, or a Trust in place. The documents are not the issue because they provide the family the legal authority to assist in managing the affairs or settling the estate of the client.
Where families struggle is when the client left the family little information and guidance. We advise clients that after they sign their estate plans to do an annual inventory of their assets. Keep all financial account statements in a centralized location and let your family know where to find these papers if something happens to you. They do not need to know the details if you do not want to share, but they at least need to know where to find things. If they are able to understand your full financial picture, they will be able to begin contacting financial institutions to assist if you become unable to manage your own affairs or pass away.
Our biggest recommendation is to stay organized. Don’t leave your loved ones with the nightmare of tracking down your assets or sorting through decades of old papers and statements of accounts that are long gone. Contact us today if you need assistance with creating or updating your estate plan.