Location, Location, Location! Do You Know Where Vital Pieces of Your Estate Plan Are Located?

Written by Elizabeth Brasher, JD, CWS on October 3, 2019

Location, location, location! You often hear this in real estate, but the same principle applies to vital pieces of your estate plan. Many couples split up household duties in the name of efficiency, but in doing so, one partner may not know where to locate documents or passwords. If something happened to you, or your partner, do you know, or would they know, where to find the necessary information to handle legal affairs or even continue running your household? As a single person, do you have a person, or entity, designated to handle your affairs? Communication is key: once you organize your important information, ask your partner for information they control and help your designated person or entity by communicating where to find the following three pieces of your estate plan.

1. Where is your money?

Keep a current list of bank and investment accounts. It is common to hold accounts at different financial institutions for a variety of reasons, so be sure to keep a current master list of accounts and passwords for each institution so you can accurately account for these dollars in your estate planning and so your designated person can access these accounts if you are otherwise unable. The same principle applies to any streaming services, monthly bills or delivery services. Know how to access these accounts. Additionally, be mindful of your retirement accounts so that you make beneficiary updates as necessary, and so you can assess where those assets remain housed. As with your banking information, keep a list of these accounts and respective login information so your designated person or entity can access this information when necessary.

2. Where is your life insurance?

It’s important to not only know where your life insurance policy is located, but also to know the policy value and whether you have any loans against it. Also, keep a copy of the original documents, and keep track of your representative and the effective date of your policy. It is also important to remember that because companies may be bought and sold over the years, keeping record of the original company who issued your policy is helpful for beneficiaries down the road.

3. Where are your estate documents?

Know where original copies of your Will, Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive are kept, and share copies of these documents with your designated person or entity. Communicating the location of these important documents will give you peace of mind, help make an emergency situation less chaotic and can help prevent delays in legal processes.

National Estate Planning Awareness Week is October 21‒27, 2019. It was adopted in 2008 to help the public understand what estate planning is and why it is such a vital component of financial wellness.*

If you would like help organizing your information, determining what information is important, having hard conversations, reviewing documents or creating your estate plan, contact one of our advisors.

*Source:  http://www.naepc.org/events/awareness_campaigns

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