Organizing Your Estate Planning Documents
You took the big step and had your estate planning documents drawn up. Now, where do you keep them and who to give them to?
Many people feel overwhelmed when they sign their estate planning documents, but it is truly a gift to your loved ones knowing that your affairs are in order and your documents are organized for easy access.
The following is a partial list of documents and information to help you organize your estate documents:
Health-Care Surrogate/Living Will/organ donation – these documents dictate your wishes for medical care should you not be able to make your own health care decisions and the type of medical care should you become incapacitated. You can carry an organ donation card or register online with a donor registry.
Durable Power of Attorney will allow your attorney-in-fact to handle your affairs, i.e., banking, should you be incapacitated or unable to handle them for yourself. This power dies with you.
Burial or Cremation is important information for your family members to have. If you participate in Advance arrangements, it is important for someone to know so they don’t go to the additional expense of a funeral.
Wills & Trust should be kept in a place that is easily accessible. Your attorney can hold your original documents in safe-keeping and when the time comes your loved ones only need to place a phone call to the attorney. These documents reflect your designation of a Personal Representative and/or Successor Trustee.
Retirement plans & pensions usually have a designated beneficiary. The institution will usually have proprietary forms to complete upon receipt of a death certificate.
Safe deposit boxes and passwords should be listed in order to terminate your online presence as well as any online banking you may have. Be sure to have someone else on your safe deposit box so they may enter the box. Without an additional named individual a Court Order would be necessary.
Pet Trusts are important so your furry friends don’t wind up in a shelter. Designate someone you know and trust that will take in your pets and care for them. An amount can be stipulated to be left for their care.
There are several websites that offer online storage and organization of your documents that are an option.
Whomever you decide to handle your affairs, be your Personal Representative or Trustee, it should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes. Getting these documents in order and easily accessible will make a difficult time a bit more palatable.