Monday, June 6, 2016

Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies part two

Leaving Detailed Information
Standard estate planning documents do not cover all the information that survivors will need after the death of a loved one. Wills are usually quite general, covering disposition of major assets, but they typically do not mention lesser assets or family treasures and keepsakes.
If controversy is likely to erupt over the disposition of such lesser assets, the retiree may want to consider leaving a letter of instruction with the executor.

Letters of instruction do not have the legal standing of a will. They are, however, more flexible, and can be changed easily. Such letters should provide needed clarification for families whose members get along well with each other.

For contentious situations, it is wise to seek the assistance of an attorney who can set up legal documents that spell things out.

Retirees should also leave a detailed inventory of all bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. This is of utmost importance for couples where one member handles most of the financial affairs.

Investment management is another important area. When one member of a couple handles all the investments, the couple should consider establishing an investment management plan. This plan would lay out how the surviving spouse should handle the investments after the more-informed spouse dies.

The investment plan should help the lesser-informed spouse avoid becoming a target of unscrupulous individuals who pose as investment professionals and then raid the couple’s accounts. It’s an excellent idea to set up financial relationships and services while both spouses are still alive, so that the surviving spouse has a trusted resource available when the other spouse dies.

Finally, people should arrange for a trusted person to have access to computer passwords. These may be necessary for accessing accounts, closing down electronic billing services and more. It’s wise to keep the passwords in a secure place, off the computer, at all times. When setting up an estate plan, people also need to decide whom to inform about the location of this important list.

As a rule, it is better to err on the side of leaving too much information rather than not enough. In addition, those who will be responsible for executing the estate plan should have the opportunity to read carefully through everything that applies to them. It is important to deal with any needed clarifications promptly so there will be no misunderstandings later on.

Families are often geographically dispersed. This can complicate management of an estate following death. It may help to provide family members with at least summary information about the estate plan. This will enable everyone to act immediately, when death occurs, without having to make a long trip to locate documents or find key financial advisors and institutions.

Regular reviews, at least yearly, will help keep the estate plan up-to-date. Following is a worksheet to use when conducting those reviews as well as in organizing and communicating estate planning information. Some experts also suggest creating a list of things that need to be handled quickly after death—such as stopping health insurance premiums and pension checks, and notifying the insurance company if a house will be empty.

Financial & Estate Info –                                                             Date _____________

Location of Info
Wills, Trusts, POA's and Health Care Proxies

Include contact information for attorneys and executors and other “who to notify” information.
Assets and Investments

Include contact information for each invest­ment company and for advisors and planners.
Monthly Income

Include records and contact information.
Monthly Expenses

Include information on each of the recurring bills and how they are paid.
Income Taxes

Include contact information for tax preparer if one is used, and keep a separate file for each year’s federal and state income tax.
Home and Insurance

Include ownership documents, mortgage documents (and contact information).
Cars and Insurance

Include title information, maintenance records. Also for boats and other motorized recreational equipment.
Survivor Benefits and Life Insurance

Include a summary for life insurance policies—policy, amount, contact information.
Health Insurance and Providers

Include contact information.
Safe Deposit Box and Passwords

Make sure executor has access to keys.

No comments:

Post a Comment