With Estate Planning, Organization Is Key

If you have recently put together your estate plan, congratulations. An estate plan—whether it consists of a Will, Trust, another device, or some combination of those things—is imperative to leaving a positive legacy and making sure your estate is distributed the way you want.

And while you can pat yourself on the back, you don’t want to forget an important “non-legal” aspect of planning—that is, organizing everything so that your Executor, Trustee, and heirs can find everything and easily settle your estate.

I recommend a fire-proof safe at home to store key documents. That way, the documents will be close to you and more accessible to your Executor. Also, you’ll be able to check in the box at any time to ensure everything is still there (I recommend checking on an annual basis). Don’t forget about letting your Executor know that the documents are in the box and informing them about how to get into the box, into your house, etc.

Here are some other important tips to organize your estate for your family:

  • Only keep current estate planning documents – discard/shred old documents that have been replaced by newer ones.
  • Keep tax records for seven years.
  • Keep important documents together like deeds, mortgage notes, and death/birth certificates.
  • Make sure to have handy an important contacts directory, instructions for your pets, a list of your accounts/holdings/policies and instructions for digital assets (email accounts, etc). For accounts with beneficiaries, it is extremely helpful to have a list of who is the primary and contingent beneficiary for each account.
  • Have your final arrangements written down. If you have plots and other plans, have those with your estate planning documents.

Now, you can really pat yourself on the back if you’ve got everything organized. But… one more thing. Communication is the final key. You must let your loved ones know who the Executor and Power of Attorney will be. Also, if you think someone in your family might be surprised by your estate plan, talk to them about it. Make sure everyone is on the same page, because surprises are a terrible ingredient to a positive legacy. 

Can I help you get organized, develop communication strategies with you? Or, have you not gotten around to starting your estate plan yet? Let me help you, by giving me a call at (215) 706-0200 for your complimentary appointment. Appointments can be over the phone or in person, whichever is more convenient for you.