The best laid plans of mice and men alike may fall apart in the face of chance. On the other hand, many plans fail because key participants to the plan are unaware that there is a plan.
Even if you have put your financial and estate planning houses well in order, your efforts could all be for naught if you fail to adequately communicate your plans to those who will be left behind to carry out your wishes.
The importance of communication was the subject of a recent Kiplinger article titled “Key Financial Documents to Share With Your Heirs.” Experts agree that it is important to keep your heirs informed at each stage of your financial and estate planning process. In fact, even better would be to plan with them, depending on their abilities or needs.
At a minimum you need to have a plan in place so your heirs can take action when the time comes. For example, will they be able to find what is important to take care of business? Will they even know where to look? What exactly do your heirs need to know?
Heirs should have access to (or know how to access) all of your financial accounts, from banks to investments to insurance policies. They will also need access to your estate planning documents (such as your Will and/or Trust) when the time comes. Also, if they are named as your agent in your advanced medical directives or power of attorney forms, be sure to provide them with copies of these documents or let them know exactly where they can be found. Some people have begun to store their powers of attorney and advance medical directives online so they can be accessed from anywhere with a password.
Finally, if any professionals have helped craft your plans, your family should know who they are and how to seek their advice if necessary. You need to make sure that your loved ones can find your important documents, records and advisors quickly when they are needed – don’t leave them searching without a “map.”
Whether you compile a comprehensive binder containing all of your planning documents and account statements, or a simple one-page list of your professional advisors and the companies (both real-world and online) with which you do business, the most important thing is for you to make this information available in some form.
For more information on how you can make sure your loved ones can locate your property and plans when the time comes, or for answers to your other estate planning questions, contact us at Peak Legal Group to schedule a complimentary estate planning consultation.
Reference: Kiplinger (November 2013) “Key Financial Documents to Share With Your Heirs”