As much as the title of this blog may sound like a joke, it’s anything but funny. People die or become disabled unexpectedly every day, leaving behind grieving family members and a bunch of estate planning questions. If you wish to avoid at least some of the questions with which they will be confronted, put together a little fluorescent binder of death or disability. Why fluorescent? Because it will stand out. You could, of course, opt for a more subdued color like red or green, but nothing says “read me” like a fluorescent binder.
Your binder’s first section should include the names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the people you wish to be notified in such a situation. This would not only include the names of close friends and relatives, but also your lawyer, accountant or financial adviser, and mortician (if you have selected one). Additionally, you’d want to include any health information – insurance information, primary care physician, and copies of any advance directives you have drafted – as well as copies of your estate plan.
Next, make a section listing your household income and expenses, maintenance schedules, insurance policies (including auto, homeowners, life, etc.), as well as your tax information.
The third section includes your investment information: what you invested in, with whom you have invested, and any retirement funds, IRAs, 401 Ks, etc. Something that’s particularly helpful here is a net worth statement. If you don’t have one, think about making one.
The fourth section includes miscellaneous items: your biography or family history, credit cards, passwords, inventory of personal items, and a list of any safety deposit boxes.
Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.