As we get closer to the 4th quarter of 2017, it is a great time to start thinking about updating our estate plans. A carefully crafted estate plan can be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones. Leaving behind a plan that clearly indicates where your important documents are kept can make it easier for your survivors to carry out your wishes. While you may want to consult with your legal, tax and financial advisors, you can use this checklist to start getting organized courtesy of Amy Florian author of No Longer Awkward:
- Name and contact information of past and current employers, including phone numbers of the benefits departments.
- Names and contact information for your accountant and financial advisor.
- Names and contact information for your insurance agents, including all policy numbers (life, property, health, disability, long-term care, etc.).
- Name and contact information for all banks where your accounts are held, and all bank account numbers.
- Name and contact information of regular doctors, dentists, and medical facilities.
- Name and contact information for of all debtors and loans (both given and received, including mortgage and home equity loans).
- Name and contact information for your lawyers, especially estate-planning attorneys.
Passwords and account numbers
- Passwords to all your online accounts, including social media sites.
- Social Security number.
- Veterans Administration information, if relevant.
- Active credit card account information, including the account number and customer service number for each.
Statements and certificates
- Your net worth statement.
- Copies of birth and baptismal certificates, marriage certificates, divorce or adoption papers, passport, and driver’s license, plus the location of originals.
- A list of employee benefits available to your family members after your death, including statements for retirement plans and insurance policies offered by your employer(s).
- Location and number of your safe deposit box, including where the keys are located, and a listing of the contents of the safe deposit box.
- Location of post office box and keys, if applicable.
- Location of income tax returns and contact information of your preparer.
- The location of your will. Keep the will in a place that you have discussed with your family and give a copy to your attorney or another responsible person. (A safe deposit box may not be a good place to keep your will or other documents that your family may need to access right away.) Depending on your state laws, the bank may freeze the contents of the box upon your death and not allow your family to retrieve them.)
- Descriptions of your cars (make and model number), car titles and where they are located, and where the car keys are usually located.
- Information and deed of your cemetery plot, if applicable. Also, documents related to prearranged funeral costs that you have purchased.
Gather as much of this information above as you can and keep it securely in a lock box. We recommend that you update the contents whenever your life circumstances or relationships change. You can also subscribe to a service that offers a digital lockbox. This is a secure account folder in the cloud that you can access with a password. At Independence Advisors, our clients have a digital lockbox as part of their online account access. Please feel free to contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org