You have done things the same way with the same philosophy for decades, and it has always worked out well. Why change now?
Here is why: you are getting older. Your abilities are decreasing. You will need help managing your affairs. Your untold secrets will die with you.
Your adult kids see the future, and they are worried. One daughter described the problem perfectly: “My brothers and I are dumbfounded by the precarious situation our parents are placing us in. The conversations are tense. They have waited so long to deal with any of this, and now that life and death events are looming closer they want to think about it even less.” She noted that if her parents would only assemble the information, it would make it so much easier for their children.
So embrace the inevitable. Buy a multi-tab file folder and put a copy of these documents in it: your will (with a note regarding location of the original) and any codicils, powers of attorney, trust, directive to physician (living will), insurance and annuity policies (or declaration page), burial instructions (with funeral contract, plot or mausoleum deed, clergy contact, preferred mortuary), organ donor instructions, obituary draft and picture, bank account information (copy of account card preferable), charitable donation information, safety deposit box number and location (with key), investment account information, pension information, debt information (for debts you owe and debts that are owed to you), promissory notes, appraisals, judgments, corporate or partnership records for any privately held businesses, Medicare card, health insurance policies, deeds, contracts, birth certificate, marital agreement, divorce decree, adoption papers, marriage license, death certificate of deceased spouse, social security card, military discharge papers, recent tax return, a statement for each existing credit card (and copy of card benefits), any documents on which you are a fiduciary, pending lawsuits, lists and instructions.
Then make lists. Logins and passwords for on-line accounts.Significant assets and their location. Contact information for friends, beneficiaries, religious entity, advisors (lawyer, CPA, broker, clergy, financial planner, and insurance agent), doctors, family. Your medications and diagnoses/conditions. Assets that are really valuable (the old rug in the living room is 18th century Persian).
Then leave instructions. What to do with the pets and plants. Who to contact if you fall ill or die. The location of the hidden safes in the house and where to find the combinations. How to dispose of hard-to-sell assets like your stamp collection and reconditioned motorcycle. Anticipated problems and how you would like them handled.
If you are feeling really savvy, scan everything, too.
What do you do now with this information? Put it somewhere safe, and tell your kids and trusted friends where it is. If you are feeling especially trusting, give a thumb-drive of the scanned information to one or more of your kids, your designated agent on your powers of attorney, and/or your proposed executor.
And now, on behalf of everyone involved: Thank you.
Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.
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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.