Hunting around for estate related documents after a loved one has passed away is another burden during an already difficult and emotionally painful time. In the most recent edition of our newsletter, I talk about the gift we can give to our survivors by getting our estate and funeral documents/wishes in order. Below is an excerpt from the article which can be accessed via the image to the right.
Estate planning is not fun; it is not easy; and it is not cheap. Estate planning is also emotionally tough to address. Not only is thinking about our own death tough, but the needed discussions around estate planning are also filled with emotional triggers that generate more barriers to implementing an estate plan.
I know all of this first hand as my wife and I recently had our estate planning documents updated. It was amazing how quickly conversations would get derailed by low probability events and our own emotions.
Though somewhat painful, there is a very good reason to get through the estate planning process: it is the responsible thing to do - for our children and family. What is the alternative to estate planning? Generally, it means leaving your loved ones with the enormous and frustrating process of finding and gathering all of the information necessary to settle your affairs. Do you want them dealing with paperwork, complexities, and frustration at a time when they are going through a time of great emotional pain and adjustment?
And while having a will, advanced directives, and other legal documents is a must, most people think estate planning is done once they walk out of the attorney's office with signed documents in hand. There is a little more to do once the documents have been executed. Instead of leaving your family a mess, you can give them the gift of peace of mind by also getting organized. For example, what if your spouse died and you found yourself asking the following questions:
- Did he name beneficiaries for his IRA? Am I the beneficiary?
- What is the password to his email account?
- How do I contact his last employer to ask about life insurance benefits?
- Where can I find tax returns from last year?
- Where did he stash the keys to (fill in the blank)?
How do you do this? How can you know what is critical for your family to know in the weeks after your death? At Mallard, we have made this easy by creating a small "Estate Binder" for each client that contains the needed documents, checklists, and summaries.