Saturday, December 5, 2020
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Special Delivery – Your Estate Plan Documentation

Because many insurers only pay beneficiaries their due from unclaimed life insurance policies when those beneficiaries come forward, it is critical to let your beneficiaries know about your estate plan and the location of pertinent estate planning documents. So don’t let your estate add to the billions of dollars in unclaimed assets.  Instead, keep a concise and orderly binder of documents with your attorney, in a safe-deposit box or in a fireproof safe that someone else can access.

In this binder, be sure to include:

Your original will.
This document allows you to specify who inherits what from your estate and who will assume guardianship of any minor children.

A letter of instruction.
This can provide the contact information for your advisors or an outline of your wishes for funeral arrangements.

A durable financial power-of-attorney form.
With this arrangement, you can appoint an heir to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to do so on your own.

Healthcare power of attorney and Authorization to Release Protected Healthcare Information forms.
These enable someone you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated – and let health care providers talk with you about your otherwise private healthcare information. Failure to make these arrangements could have devastating consequences. For example, even if your wishes are to not be kept on life support, your family may have no choice if they do not have the power to make such decisions on your behalf.

Life insurance policies.
Be sure to have documentation of the name of the insurer, the policy number and the contact information to the agent for the policy.

Retirement accounts.
Include a complete list of 401(k) plans, IRAs, pensions and any other accounts to ensure these don’t go unclaimed.

Bank account information.
Include account numbers, usernames and passwords so that your heirs can notify the bank of your death and claim your assets. If you have a safe deposit box, be sure to have an heir register for access to avoid having to get a court order.

Proof of ownership of important assets.
This includes property, stocks, financial accounts, partnerships, etc. Having these documents helps make your heirs aware of assets about which they may not have known.

Debts and loans.
Keep a record of any loans you have made to other people and of any loans that you are paying. If you have debts, you can specify how they are to be settled in your will or with a trust.

Marriage licenses and/or divorce judgments and decrees.
This documentation can help your surviving spouses prove their relationships to you and, in the instance of divorce, outline the division of assets. Along with divorce documentation, include account numbers that were divided or maintained in the divorce and your child support records.

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