When it comes to your estate plan, full disclosure is of paramount importance. Sharing vital data on accounts, bills, and the overall financial picture helps keep the lines of communication open and avoid surprises following a tragic loss.
When information is not shared, and a loved one passes without communicating bank and credit card accounts to access and provide login information, turmoil, and confusion can ensue, potentially tearing apart a family during an already challenging time.
Countless options to secure the future
Options exist to prevent chaos and access financial accounts. Creating a will, revocable living trust, power of attorney, and other estate planning mechanisms are essential. However, one of the more effective and proactive steps is taking the time to create an emergency financial file. The step can make lives easier for grieving widows and represents a central location for easily accessible financial information.
While storing on a computer or a secure “cloud,” hard copies properly stored in a safety deposit box are just as effective. The all-important files should include wills and estate plans that name the executor, beneficiaries, and who has a power of attorney. Of equal importance include financial data on checking, savings, brokerage/retirement/education, and employee-sponsored retirement accounts that include specific login information, account numbers, and balances.
Providing a monthly budget gives a picture of the financial workings combined with automated payments and the associated accounts and previous tax reviews. Many also include what is deemed “legacy letters” to communicate their wishes and wisdom. Finally, funeral instructions and preferences can potentially avoid conflicts over the process and ceremony.
During emotionally-charged times, a clear plan is paramount following the loss of a loved one. Having a lawyer help facilitate the process can help family members to move on.