I have listed some things for you to think about to make sure that your passing would not be more difficult than it should be for your loved ones. This is by no means legal advice but simply ideas:
- Location of your Will
- a listing of assets and liabilities (and business info if self employed)
- passwords for your online accounts, computer, cellphone voicemail
- listing of company benefits and human resource contact person
- location of life insurance and agent contact information
- name of your estate attorney and financial advisor
- a listing of monthly bills (especially if you are the primary financial person)
- Make sure your spouse is jointly named on the main checking account or has a TOD (transfer on death) assignment on your taxable investment accounts. You don't want to leave them in a bind without access to any cash while the estate is being settled. (yes, social security will go back and retroactively pull your last monthly payment back out of your checking account if you die early in the month)
Aside from funeral preparation, the first step is generally filing of the Will in Probate Court. However, before you do this I would recommend one major step: Consult with an Estate Attorney. It is well worth your time and money to have an attorney guide you through the process and to catch any pitfalls before the Will is filed. As you settle the estate you will then have to retitle Real property, change financial account titles along with closing some accounts or transferring to beneficial type accounts. It is a lengthy process that requires many copies of a death certificate and often times many forms to be notarized.
Lastly, the process for spouses can be difficult. There are resources and support groups available especially to help them get through this time. Religious and Community calenders normally have information regarding the various support groups. There are also professional businesses that help widows/widowers with everything we have listed above. Bereavement Navigators is one such organization in Atlanta that offers organization tools, resources and mentoring.
If you have any questions on today's topic just send me an email:
James Daniel, CFP®