You’ve worked hard to get your estate plan in place. The appropriate documents have been created and signed. You’ve named the person who’ll carry out your final wishes. But have you completed the final piece of the estate planning puzzle? If this last piece is in place, it will make it substantially easier for your executor or trustee.
The last step in the estate planning process is collecting all your financial information and important documents into a single location. At the end of your life, you may have multiple pieces of property, IRAs in various locations, there may be 401k accounts at several previous employers, multiple insurance policies, and the list goes on. If your executor has to become Sherlock Holmes and search for all your assets, it can be a daunting task that creates undue stress for them and creates a much longer settlement process than necessary.
To avoid those headaches, create an Inventory of Assets and Documents. List your credit cards, loans, bank accounts, and investment accounts. Write down the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, annuities, and Transfer on Death accounts. With each listing write down the account number, a telephone number and email address. If there’s a specific person you deal with who’s familiar with your account, list that person’s name. In other words, provide all the information you can so your executor or trustee can easily access information and contact the appropriate parties to settle your estate.
Some information is not necessarily financial but still important and should be listed on your inventory, things like the location of your safe deposit box and the key, healthcare directives, funeral arrangements, business documents such as buy/sell agreements, and military records. Even passwords to social media accounts.
If there are assets or documents held in other locations, list those on your inventory sheet along with all pertinent information that will make it easy on the person carrying out your final wishes.
Then, when you’ve got everything collected and organized, tell your executor or trustee where to find the inventory sheet. If possible, show them where it’s located.
There’s a lot more information to gather than is listed here, so we’ve created an asset and document inventory worksheet. Here’s the link.