Taking a few steps to prepare your estate plan well before your death is an important part of protecting your assets and ensuring that your family can transition more easily after your death. While many people tend to focus on the will as the most important document in an estate plan, other documents and information should also be included. If you are ready to move forward in planning your estate, this information can help you navigate the process more easily.
Documentation for final needs arrangements
While even well-planned estates can take some time to settle after death occurs, one of the first accomplishments of the estate plan should be to provide specific information about your final needs, arrangements, and desires. Included in this should be information about how and where the funeral or memorial service will be conducted, cemetery plot information (if applicable), information about burial insurance or other funds designated to cover the cost of your final needs, and any specific wishes or directives you may have. This information should be kept where it will be accessible to your spouse or other immediate family members so that they can use the information when making your funeral arrangements.
Documentation that will be needed to handle your estate
The next component of a good estate plan involves the information and documentation that will be needed to manage your estate during the days and weeks immediately following your death. In addition to a copy of your most recent will, you will want to include identifying any financial documents, like birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses, copies of insurance policies, and a list of your bank and financial accounts, along with logins and passwords. Real and personal property records, such as car titles and real estate deeds, should also be included.
Documentation to determine how property and assets will be handled
The third component in a good estate plan involves providing documents that will show proof of how your property and assets are to be handled after your passing. Trust information, power of attorney documentation, and information for directing charitable donations after your death should all be included, as well as detailed information about the executor of your will, successor trustees for trusts, guardians for children or pets, and other specific details that will be needed to settle your estate.
A good estate plan must also be made in accordance with state and federal laws. To learn more about estate planning, take time to meet with a probate planning lawyer in your area.