When preparing your estate, there are a few basics that should be covered now to help you and your family with end of life decisions. I have put together a few essentials that should be considered now.
Advanced Directives for Health Care:
Do you have instructions for end of life decisions? If so, do your family members know of them, where to access them, and who is responsible for making those decisions? If you do not have instructions for end of life decisions, consider whether you need them.
Do you have a will. A will is essential even if you have your assets disposed primarily through other means. Your will is instructions for how you want your estate managed, by whom, and for what purposes. Without a will your estate will be distributed according to Statute, which may or may not meet your needs. Even if the majority of your assets are in Trusts, insurance, or other will substitutes, you should have a will to distribute anything leftover.
You also need to have your will in an accessible location. You should not place a will in a safety deposit box because only the owner of the box can open it and if the owner is deceased then it becomes difficult to access. It is safer to keep your will in a fireproof container that is accessible.
You also should ensure that someone knows where the will is and how to access it. If the will is in a safe or lock box that person should know the combination or the location of the key.
You should also make sure that your family knows how you want your funeral to be arranged. You can place the information in the will itself, but it is likely that the Will will not be opened until after the funeral and therefore final arrangements should be accessible to your family immediately.
The more detailed your arrangements are spelled out, the less decisions will need to be made by your family during this stressful time. Prepayment for services, if possible, might also ease the burden on family members.
These are just a few of the concerns that should be addressed during initial Estate Planning. Your Estate planner will have more specific questions and tools to help you answer these and other questions about your estate.