Back to Basics – 10 Essential Estate Planning Documents Pt. 2

In the last post we discussed the first five of ten essential documents that should be considered when estate planning. Those included a basic will, beneficiary forms, a financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and a living will. Here are the last five documents that should be included in your estate planning process.

6. Inventory of assets
Every financial planner has a different way of structuring and explaining your assets. Some planners give you a small book detailing every complex facet of your current financial status. Others will hand you a page with a simple chart or graph that sums up your entire account, and a lot of other financial planners fall somewhere in between. You should talk with your financial planner about getting documents that explain your assets in a way that your executor and heirs will be able to understand, and include it with your other estate planning documents.

7. List of contacts
Providing a list of contacts can greatly help your executor, attorney, and heirs. The list should include the contact information for any personal advisors such as bankers, lawyers, doctors, and tax advisors. You should also list all of your utility providers and any other service that is done for you or your home. This can include dog walking, lawn care, pest control, and others. Finally, provide the contact information for anyone that will be involved in the estate plan so that they can all be notified.

8. Guide to digital assets
As discussed in previous posts, estate planning now includes digital assets. Online bank accounts, social media pages, and the like are all digital assets. Provide a list of accounts, user names, and passwords so that your executor will have access to your digital assets. The list can be a hard copy, or you can opt for an online password storage service and give your executor access to that account.

9. Funeral arrangements
Making all of your funeral arrangements beforehand can greatly relieve the stress on your family from your passing. Decisions about cremation, burial, funeral home, memorial services, pallbearers, and the like can all be predetermined by you in your funeral arrangements. If you expect any donations to be made in your honor you can also decide which charities should get them, as well as how much they should each receive.

10. Trusts
A trust is an estate planning tool that allows assets from your estate to bypass probate proceedings and provide for your loved ones. Trusts are a great tool to provide financial stability for minor children, spouses, and anyone in your family with special needs. You must also name a person as trustee who will make decisions regarding the trust money such as investment and distributions.

Not everyone will need every document in this list for their estate planning needs. However, you should go over all of them with your estate planning attorney. These ten essential documents should cover almost every aspect of your estate plan and ensure that your wishes will be fulfilled as you want them in addition to making sure that your loved ones will be taken care of after you are gone.

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