One of the most important things you can do for your loved ones is to make sure all of your affairs are in order, not just your estate legal documents. Here are five additional things that our clients do for their families to ensure a simpler, less stressful estate settlement process:
A List of Your Friends. There's a section in your Estate Planning Portfolio where you can list the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your closest family members and friends. Everyone seems to have friends that they want notified but sometimes they are such old friends, that the family isn’t aware of their names and contact information. Don't leave your family with the job of having to track them down. Put them in your Portfolio so that the work is done ahead of time and keep it up to date.
Funeral Instructions. One of the sections in our clients’ Estate Planning Portfolio is for funeral and burial instructions. Documenting your detailed wishes for your preferences (traditional or veteran’s funeral, traditional or graveside service, traditional burial or cremation, type of casket, type of urn, cemetery location, mausoleum or grave, etc.) in the appropriate section of your Estate Planning Portfolio makes things so much easier on your family. I know from personal experience that trying to determine what a family member would have wanted is an extra layer of unnecessary stress and worry.
Instructions to Your Executor / Successor Trustee. There's a section in our clients’ Portfolio that has detailed instructions for the people that you designated to handle your estate, legal, tax, and financial affairs after you have passed away. You simply need to let that person know of the existence and location of your customized documents and your Estate Planning Portfolio and they'll be able to find the section that contains their instructions on what to do.
Organized Asset Information. How can your family adequately help manage your estate and your assets if they don’t know they exist? You can have the most superior set of estate legal documents, does not have detailed records, you will leave them in a frustrating situation. This will delay your estate settlement because no one will ever know if there is another account or asset out there that will be uncovered at a later date. Your family will want and need closure. In our clients’ Portfolio there is a section to list the assets so that your family won’t have to make any guesses in settling your estate.
Your Estate Planning Letter to Your Heirs. You can communicate your wishes to your family regarding the distribution of your personal effects, such as jewelry, paintings, tools, watches, furniture, and other personal non-titled items. For some, making sure the personal effects go to the correct person is more important than the division of money and other non-personal assets. It's easy to divide $100,000 between four grandchildren, but families have been known to fight over personal effects which had far less fair market value than other estate assets. Describe your wishes and your feelings to your surviving wife, husband, children, or other loved ones.
If your estate planning legal documents are the only part of your estate plan, you've missed out on an opportunity. Having a customized set of estate planning legal documents is critical to the process of settling your estate, but having supporting letters, records, and instructions can be the key to making things easy on your family. Almost every client we have ever had wants that for his or her family.
Contact us at 214.220.2130 to discuss your estate planning options.