Once you’ve drafted a will and advance directives and signed a health care proxy, take into consideration some of the less obvious things that may alleviate some of the burden on a loved one or family member. Here’s a quick list:
Access to Information
The family needs to understand and have access to the individual’s documents. Three steps are recommended: creating a centralized and comprehensive collection of documents and information; talking to family members about wishes; and providing key documents such as powers of attorney to family members named in those documents.
The collection of documents and information should include not just the estate planning documents, but also information regarding online accounts, burial arrangements, and all financial accounts.
After the initial steps in administering the estate, cash from the estate will be available to settle debts and pay for estate administration costs. The cash from the estate may not be available immediately after the individual’s death, but bills such as burial costs and attorneys’ fees come quickly. Individuals should ensure that there is enough cash flow to handle the initial costs.
Bills and Accounts
Having a list of the account numbers and information for all financial accounts and debts prevent issues such as unknown creditors and unclaimed assets. There should also be a list of bills, particularly bills that are automatically withdrawn each month. Additionally, the individual should keep a list of online accounts and passwords.
Some people have special requests or arrangements which require additional planning. For example, the survivors of veterans who wish to be buried in a military cemetery must provide the veteran’s DD214; not having it on hand can cause delays. Such arrangements should be discussed and planned for.
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