Making sure your finances are in order is key in preparing your estate and what you will leave behind. While it’s not something we like to talk about, preparing for when we are no longer here is something we all need to consider. It is important to inform your children, grandchildren or someone you trust of your finances and wishes so you can ensure everything is taken care of according to your wishes.
Your estate plans. Ensure someone knows if you have a will and where it is located. That same person should also know if you have made advance plans for your funeral, the location of any relevant documents and a list of your key contacts including accountants, attorneys, financial advisors and anyone else who may be involved in your affairs.
Your executor. Inform the executor of your will and estate of their duty and confirm they accept the responsibility of handling your affairs.
Your assets’ location. Provide a detailed list of your bank and investment accounts, real estate holdings, insurance policies and any other pertinent information you will be leaving behind.
Your assets. Decide and record how much money you will be leaving to whom. If you will be leaving a large amount of money to minors, consider leaving instructions to distribute the amount over a period of time once the minor reaches a certain age. Young adults often lack the maturity to make thoughtful decisions and could easily waste the money away in a short amount of time.
Your expectations. Talk with your children and grandchildren ahead of time about your wishes for their inheritance. Sometimes having a conversation with them about where your money came from, how you earned it and what you hope they will do with it will guide them so that your wishes are met, and so they better appreciate the gift you are leaving them.
Your restrictions. Sometimes restrictions to inheritances are necessary, but they should be communicated clearly. While your desires and wishes can be expressed, they may not be met unless they are legally binding or set in a trust for the beneficiary.
Your specifics. Be as specific as possible in your will as to the specific instructions you wish to be followed. List each beneficiary and the amount or item which is to be left to them individually instead of lumping them into a group. This will help eliminate any issues that could arise when your assets are being distributed.
This article was written by Kelly Potts. It was published in Founders FCU Springtimers Newsletter (December 2012).