If you have completed your estate planning, when was that? Where are the documents? Does your family know where they are located?
Estate Planning needs to be reviewed and updated whenever there is a major life event like a marriage, birth, death, or divorce.
Haven't done any estate planning? Why not?
Many folks think they don't need estate planning because they don't have enough money for that, or they own everything jointly, says a recent article from CBS Boston, "Spring Cleaning: Estate Planning."
So why bother with a will? What happens when you both die? What if you have kids? Who is going to care for them if you pass away? Do you have things that you would want friends or family to have?
An estate plan helps your family distribute your assets when you pass away according to your wishes. In addition, if you have minor children, you can designate a guardian to take care of your children if both you and your spouse should die.
Perhaps all you need is a simple will. However, if your life and finances are more complex, you should speak with an estate planning attorney about how to address more complicated situations.
If you did your estate planning a long time ago, you need to dig out those documents and review them.
Don't leave these very important documents in a safe deposit box, because if something should happen, your family may not be able to get to them right away. If you do, make sure your executor or trustee would have access to the box right now. They will need to sign some paperwork with the institution and you need to let them know where you keep the keys.
You can leave your originals with your estate planning attorney, if that is his or her standard practice, and keep copies in your home. You should have completed a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy. Keep these at home, too, and give a copy to the people named in those documents as your proxy.
If you've created a Living Trust, you need to have the document available and accessible to the person you have named as your alternate trustee. Likewise, your executor needs to know where your will is located and have access, as well as instructions for funeral arrangements.