The unfortunate reality is that many people die or become incapacitated without having put their affairs in order. In such cases, family members are often left with the daunting task of having to sort out their deceased or incapacitated loved one’s affairs. However, with some relatively simple and thoughtful planning ahead of time, these difficult situations can easily be avoided.
You should start this process by creating a personal information file for the family members who will ultimately be placed in charge of your affairs at your death and/or if you ever become incapacitated. This file should contain your important financial and personal information, as well as a list of and the location of any estate planning documents that you have executed. You should also include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your advisors, such as attorneys, doctors, financial planners, CPA’s, bankers, insurance agents, and other similar professionals.
After this file is created, you should tell a couple of trusted individuals (e.g., your spouse and/or an adult child) where the file is located. If the file is located in a safe deposit box, your trusted individuals must have access to the box. In most cases, it is a better idea to keep this information, as well as your estate planning documents, in a file cabinet or safe at your residence.