Of all the gifts on your holiday list, perhaps the best one is to have your financial and estate paperwork organized, sparing your family the stress and misery of an estate scavenger hunt.
This year’s Thanksgiving brought families together to share memories and to talk turkey and football. However, one topic often overlooked during family gatherings is the more difficult conversation about family, assets, and plans for the future. CBS Boston’s “Our Families: The Important Papers,” explains how frank discussions about important papers and their locations, including wills, contact lists and more, can be a gift to those you love.
It’s a wise plan to have a responsible person in your life who can access your important papers at every age. You should also make sure that your important paperwork is organized and filed so they can find it, so they don’t have to ransack your home looking for these documents.
Begin by making a list of important people and their contact information. You should also make the list of where the important documents are located.
Think about this for a minute: you live in State A, and your widowed sister lives in State B. If something should happen to your sis, you may be hundreds of miles away. Do you have the phone numbers for her friends and the next-door neighbor? What about a list of the important people in her life. How about her doctor’s info? Get that contact information, just in case you need it.
OK, now think about what would happen if you had an accident in another state while visiting this week for Thanksgiving and needed someone back home to find your important documents. Are you organized and prepared so you could tell them exactly where to find them? Could they pay the bills while you were in the hospital out of state?
Next, think about your estate planning. If you don’t have a will when you pass away, your assets will be divided by a judge according to the state statutes.
Before you finish that last bite of turkey, make an appointment to meet with an estate attorney about creating a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. The power of attorney will allow someone to make legal and financial decisions if you are unable to. The health care proxy lets someone make important medical decisions for you. You can name different people for each, so that someone who is great with finances can help in that arena, while a wise and trusted person can become named as your health care proxy.
Reference: CBS Boston (November 21, 2016) “Our Families: The Important Papers”