We do not like to think about dying or becoming incapacitated due to illness, but it is important to be prepared. In the event you become incapacitated or die, does your spouse or loved one know what assets you have or where they are located? Do they know what bills need to be paid or how to pay them? Some additional questions your loved ones need to know include the following:
- Do you have a will? Where is it located?
- Where are your financial accounts located, including checking, savings and brokerage accounts?
- Do you have life insurance? Where can the policy or policies be found?
- Where are stock certificates and saving bonds located?
- To whom do you owe money i.e., car loans, mortgages, school loans, personal loans, etc.?
At some point, you will need to have a discussion with your spouse and give him or her the answers to these questions. If you do not have a spouse or significant other, you should talk to one of your children, a family member or a trusted advisor. Often, a trusted advisor can be your accountant or attorney. If you choose not to speak with anyone, it is advisable that you leave a road map for your loved ones to use to find the answers these questions. This document can be as simple as a piece of paper listing all necessary information, but be sure you put it in a safe place and make it easily distinguishable, for example a red folder marked “Important,” among your personal effects so that your loved ones will be able to find it. Otherwise, it may go undiscovered or be unintentionally discarded.
Whether you choose to have a conversation or leave a written road map, the following checklist can be used as a guide to help you provide necessary information.
- All bank and brokerage accounts showing where the accounts are held, the account numbers and how the accounts are titled.
- The location of your life insurance policies, e., in a safe deposit box or in a box in your closet. Are your beneficiary forms up to date?
- Regarding retirement, pension and annuity accounts, where are the accounts held and list the account numbers. Again, you should periodically make sure that your beneficiary forms are up to date.
- Real estate holdings and how they are titled.
- Stocks and bonds certificates, where are the located.
- A list of other assets and important papers and where they can be found.
- Credit cards
- Any pending lawsuits
You should also provide a list of the professionals with whom you work, including attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, bankers and insurance agents. Finally, you should include all the bills you pay, how they are paid, whether by check, online or auto debit, and when they are paid.
If you have this conversation with a trusted advisor, rather than a spouse or loved one, be sure your spouse or the individual that you designate knows who he or she needs to go see in the event you die or become incapacitated. It is also important to have this conversation periodically as things change over time. Pick a month every year that you will have a follow up conversation or update your road map. You worked hard for what you have earned. Doing this will give you peace of mind that all of your finances are accounted for and that your wishes are honored.
For more information on preparing your estate, contact Renee Andrews-Tushinski at email@example.com, or call her at 312.670.6276. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Wealth Management Services.©2017