Catherine's Video Message
Transcript: What your family needs to know about your estate plan
One of the most difficult situations in life for anyone is the moment you lose a loved one. That situation is already devastating, but there’s an added burden we sometimes see that’s super easy to fix, as long as you do it now.
You take the time and spend the money to get a comprehensive estate plan in place. You’ve worked hard to protect your family, and then you die. Those hours, days, and weeks after your death are filled with shock and grief. They are likely the most difficult moments of your loved one’s entire life.
It’s normal for your family members to be walking in a bit of a fog for a while, unable to think or act as clearly as they normally do. At the same time, there are a number of things your loved ones need to take care of. What many of our clients don’t realize is that you can save your family from a lot of stress in those days and weeks after you die.. And it’s simple.
It starts with asking this question, “What does my family need to know about my estate plan now so they can take care of things when I die?”
Estate Plan Details
The first thing they need to know is that you have a plan, and where your documents are located. If you keep your documents in a safe, they’ll need to know how to get in, so make sure they have the combination.
It’s also important that they know who your attorney is. Our clients receive a magnet to put on your refrigerator that says, “I have my estate plan with Hammond Law Group” and it also includes our phone number. Give our contact information to your loved ones now, before they need it.
Updated list of assets
Your loved ones will need to know what assets you own. They need a comprehensive list of every bank account, investment, retirement plan, piece of real estate, everything you own. For financial accounts, make sure you write down the financial institution, the account number, and approximately how much money you have in the account. It’s important to review this list every year so that when you die the information will be updated.
What to do when you die
Your family also needs to know exactly what to do (and not to do) when you die. Things like filing the Will with the probate court (even if there’s no probate required), handling insurance and benefits, and navigating a number of other practical and legal requirements. We give each of our clients a set of instructions when you sign your estate plan. Make sure you give those to your Successor Trustee. We also offer classes to guide you and your Successor Trustee through what to do when something happens to you, whether disability or death.
Let your loved ones know your final wishes. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Which funeral home would you like them to use? Where would you like to be buried or have your ashes? Planning these details ahead of time is a huge gift to your family when your time comes.
The most important thing for your loved ones to know is that whenever something happens to you, whether disability or death, they should call us. We offer a free 60-minute session to guide them through the exact next steps, which vary depending on the estate plan and the assets you own.
Remember, putting your estate plan in place is a great first step, but it’s not the last. Giving this information to your loved ones and coming in regularly for your free checkups will ensure that things truly will be as easy as possible in the most difficult moments of life.