One of the best things you can do for your surviving family, if you're approaching the end of your life, is to have your personal and financial information organized in a way that makes it easy for your family and for the executor of your estate to navigate through the disposition of your assets. Here are 3 tips for organizing end-of-life documents.
1. Make sure you have everything in document form. Meet with an estate planning professional to learn what specific documents you should have in place for your life choices and for your estate. The most important documents you should prepare (or have prepared for you) include a Will, a Trust, Life Insurance policies, end-of-life instructions, and a Health Care Proxy.
2. Once you have everything documented, develop a plan for organizing and storing them, and making them accessible to a family member or your attorney. Create folders for each category (health, insurance, investments, assets, etc), and keep them all together in a secure location. You could rent a safety deposit box at your bank, or use a fire-safe box in your home. Make sure to include personal documents like your birth certificate, social security card, passport, military records, marriage and divorce papers, the deed to your home, and digital information, including usernames and passwords. Include special instructions that may not be detailed in your Will.
3. Communicate with your loved ones and your attorney to let them know where everything is stored, and how to access it. Offer step-by-step instructions, especially if they need to access a locked home safe or a safety deposit box.
Although it's a tough topic to discuss with loved ones, it will help them immensely in the event of your passing. It will make the process less stressful during a sad and emotional time. For more information, please contact:
John R. Adolf, Director
7000 South Madison Street
Willowbrook, IL 60527
2921 South Harlem Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402