We were surprised to find that one of the biggest online searches from the general public is ‘Documents to have ready before you die’. It seems that a lot of people want to know.
Only recently we found ourselves sitting in front of the Lawyer discussing our own Wills. We were surprised how complicated it can be if you don’t have things well planned.
Whilst it’s a topic we’d rather not discuss, the reality is at some point we are all going to be faced with the situation.
We have all seen the person who loses someone and has no idea about the Banking details! There is nothing worse than leaving a giant pile of paperwork or not knowing how to access things around us. The distress of the situation can take its toll.
You may be going on a holiday, moving to another country, or recently divorced. You could be moving to a retirement village.
There’s so many reasons why your affairs need to be in order and life is so unpredictable. The last thing you want is to find that your wishes are not adhered to. Simple things like organ donation and burial arrangements must be documented.
Ensure a trusted family member or friend knows passwords, and where the important things are kept. It can turn out to be a living nightmare trying to track down simple paper work. It’s so much better if you have taken the necessary steps.
When we discovered the ’25 documents before your die PDF’ on the Wall Street Journal, we knew we had to share.
When in consultation with our own Lawyer were shocked to find out how our possessions could end up in the hands of people you’d least expect. If the thought of the ex-getting your cash leaves you cold, you might want to get things in order!
Failing to keep correct records and documents can have devastating financial and emotional consequences.
The amount of unclaimed property and money being held by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is well into the tens of billions of dollars.
They certainly can do without your contribution! While we’re on the subject, you can actually search unclaimed Assets that you may be entitled to on the Missing Money website ..
Whilst the infographic in our post outlines 25 Documents, we thought it worth delving deeper into the top 12 according to Tarta Law. Steven Tarta is the writer of the article.
He has some 40 years experience in Estate Planning, Living Trusts and Elder Law. We felt his article was informative and easy to understand. This is also completely independent advice.
This is not to be relied on, or take the place of your own Lawyer or Attorney. Every person’s circumstance are unique and require an expert opinion. Be sure to confirm the information.
12 Documents To Have Ready Before You Die -:
- An original Will is the most important document to keep on file. Dying without a Will means losing control of how your assets are distributed. Instead, state law will determine what happens. Wills are subject to probate-legal proceedings that take inventory, make appraisals of property, settle outstanding debt and distribute remaining assets. Estate planners increasingly recommend Revocable Living Trusts in addition to Wills, since they are more private and harder to dispute.
- A Revocable Living Trust can be changed anytime during your lifetime. After you transfer ownership of various assets to the trust, you can serve as the trustee on behalf of beneficiaries you designate. Provided you do so, there aren’t any ongoing fees.
- A letter of instruction is a useful supplement to a Will, though it doesn’t hold legal weight. It is a good way to make sure your executor has the names and contact information of your attorneys, accountants and financial advisers. Go to www.tartalaw.com and print out and complete “Executors Instructions” under “Tools and Links”.
- A Durable Power-of-Attorney is necessary; without it, no one can make financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated.
- File with the County Clerk any documents that list loans you have made to others because since they are to be included as assets in an estate. Similarly, keep a list of any debts you owe to avoid surprising your family.
- The past three years of Income Tax Returns and Gift Tax Returns should be available. This also will help your personal representative file a final income-tax and estate return and, if necessary a revocable-trust return.
- List any safe-deposit boxes you own, register your spouse or child’s name with the bank and ask them to sign the registration document as “deputy” for access to the safe deposit box.
- A Durable Health Care Proxy. This allows your designee to make health-care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You may also wish to fill out an Authorization to Release Protected Healthcare Information Form.
- Life-insurance policies are among the most important documents for your family to have. Family members need to know the name of the carrier, the policy number and the agent associated with the policy. Be careful with life-insurance policies granted by an employer upon your retirement, since those are the kinds of financial documents most often forgotten.
- Create a list of pensions, annuities, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s for your spouse and children. An IRA is considered dormant or unclaimed if no withdrawal has been made by age 70 ½. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, tens of millions of dollars languish in unclaimed IRAs every year.
- Ensure that your spouse knows where you have stored your marriage license.
- For divorced people, it is important to leave behind the divorce judgment and decree, or, if the case was settled without going to court, the stipulation agreement or Property Settlement Agreement. These documents lay out child support, alimony and also may list the division of investment and retirement accounts.
Of course, there are DIY Will Kits online. In our opinion, something so important deserves to be handled by a professional. One way to save money is to perhaps use a kit to step you through the process.
At the end of the day it is the amount of time you spend with your Lawyer or Attorney that costs the most. If you can take in a prepared version, you may reduce the amount of time and money.
Consider taking a trusted friend with you. Family members can have self-interest. An impartial person is best.
We also suggest you invest in an expandable file or dossier for all your documents. Consider using something that has plastic slips to house your documents and keep them from spoiling. It should also be fire resistant.
Pop in a very safe place. Ideally, a copy of all your most important documents should be given to your Lawyer or Attorney for safe keeping. Pick out an Expanding File or Dossier here.