Tips to make your existing estate plan even better
Every now and then, a client asks,
“How can I make the estate plan I just completed even better?”
That’s an outstanding question because although getting your Trust, Will and Powers of Attorney in place is important, it doesn’t give the Trustee everything he or she needs to quickly step in and handle your affairs.
Remember, in an emergency, many Trustees/Executors are essentially asked to step into your shoes and get your affairs in order. Therefore, let’s give them everything they need to get up to speed quickly. With this in mind, I’ve created an Essential Estate Planning Template for your to use to help keep all this information organized.
With that in mind, here are some additional items of information to consider keeping with your important estate planning documents:
Your personal information
Having your social security number, maiden name or mother’s maiden name quickly available will assist greatly.
Name and contact information of the following people:
Attorney, accountant, financial adviser/s, business partner/s and anyone else you think would be helpful to the Trustee when administering your Trust.
Monthly expense information
(Note: If putting together a spreadsheet of the information herein is too much work, consider simply making a copy of the statement for each of the various items below and keep them with your estate planning folder for a Trustee to reference rather than making him or her dig through your mail and other paperwork).
Credit Card information
Rather than having a Trustee hunt around to locate and cancel outstanding credit cards, you could provide the card provider (ie: Visa), card number, expiration date, security code and customer service number for each credit card you have and keep it with your estate planning paperwork.
Other Debt Information
If you have existing mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans or other debts (even personal debts) that a Trustee/Executor should be aware of, make sure you have that information handy.
Homeowner’s and Auto Insurance
It would be helpful to have the provider name, policy number, customer service number and the contact information for any particular broker that assists in keeping your homeowner and auto insurance policies current.
Life Insurance (and Accidental Death or Dismemberment Insurance)
Provide the Policy Number, customer service number and the contact information for any beneficiary on the policy.
Many people forget to include pertinent medical insurance information and yet your Agent under your Power of Attorney for Health Care might be in charge of authorizing medical decisions on your behalf while you’re alive, but incapacitated. Therefore, it’s important that we have all available medical insurance policy numbers, customer service information and any other pertinent Medicare and other information available.
Long Term Care Insurance
If you are one of the few people that have one of these policies, pat yourself on the back and remember to list the policy provider, policy number, customer service contact number and any other pertinent information.
It’s good to have the plan provider contact information, the account number and the beneficiary information relating to any retirement accounts. More importantly, you need to have contingent beneficiaries on any accounts where it’s applicable.
Bank and Brokerage Accounts
Account numbers, banker/broker information and titling are good to know for these assets. (For instance, if your checking account is titled in joint tenancy and not in your Trust, the person acting on your behalf is going to have to use a different form to access the account).
Where do you keep the pink slip to the vehicle? Auto Insurance contact information?
Do you have a safe or safe deposit box somewhere with valuables in it? If so, let your successor know the combination or where the key is located to access such items. Otherwise, your Trustee will end up paying a locksmith for what might be some relatively worthless paperwork.
Your online usernames and passwords
In this day and age, something as simple as shutting down a Facebook account can become a legal headache so getting together your various usernames and passwords for the benefit of your Trustee/Executor can be very helpful.
I hope this helps. Obviously, you can make your own spreadsheet of the information you wish to include. However, if you’re interested, I created the Essential Estate Planning Template for you to complete when you’re ready.
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS YOUR FREE ESSENTIAL ESTATE PLANNING TEMPLATE
Finally, if you think you have some other pertinent ideas to add to this list, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Since you probably just paid your latest property tax installment recently, it’s worth double-checking the bill to be sure your Trust is properly funded.
Don’t hesitate to call me with any questions.