Most of our clients understand that we handle estate and corporate planning matters. For personal planning, we work towards forming an orderly plan to dispose of assets at the time of death. For corporate planning, our work varies – sometimes we advise clients regarding the type of entity to use; assist in contract review, negotiation and preparation; and business succession planning.
What is not as well known is the depth of our estate administration (a.k.a. probate) practice. We routinely advise clients’ loved ones on how to carry out the plans that were made for their benefit. A reoccurring issue that comes up in our meetings is trying to find information.
In the absence of keeping information organized, your loved ones will have a heck of a time locating and gathering information about your assets and bills. That’s not to say that they won’t be able to do it; however, it can certainly take a long time. This is made even worse when you think about how many statements you receive through your email account.
In the “old” days (and yes, I feel really old saying that), we would advise clients’ families to collect their loved one’s bills for a few months. Once those items are collected, a good list of assets and bills could be assembled. Unfortunately, while we still need to do that, we find that this approach is simply not enough.
Please make it a part of your estate planning to make a list of your assets. In this list, include bank names and account numbers. Don’t forget to add usernames and passwords for all online accounts, including your email addresses. Because this will change frequently, I encourage you to update your list once a year – perhaps when you are gathering your tax materials for your accountant.
When you make your list, print it out and keep it in a place where your designated representative(s) can locate it without difficulty. You can also upload it into The DocSafe, but if your family does not know that you use this service, the list won’t do you much good.