Countless people believe that once they have drafted the legal documents, then the estate planning procedure is complete – wrong. Well, we know that a large part of the process deals with legal issues, but you also deal practical stuff as well.
After your demise, most of the decisions your loved ones will deal with won’t be found in these documents.
So, what needs to happen to make sure your plans are in order?
Organize Your Affairs
Many beneficiaries lose the estate because the departed failed to put his affairs in order. We have seen estates running into millions of dollars going unclaimed due to lack of organization.
When estates go unclaimed, the government takes everything over, and has the mandate to handle the process. Surprisingly, estates running into millions of dollars find their way to the state treasury because their owners aren’t there to claim them.
At times, communication is the problem – when the death of a loved one isn’t communicated to the right people, heirlooms go unclaimed and may not pass down to intended beneficiaries.
When coming up with an estate plan, you can avoid such losses with timely categorization, preparation and organizing.
Consolidate the Information
Things can go smoothly for your family by organizing the material the right way. Well, this can take a lot of time and effort, but the rewards are worthy your time.
Start by categorizing the information then come up with a technique to make the information accessible to relevant parties.
Storing Your Estate Planning Documents
A skilled estate planning lawyer will tell you how to store your documents safe. Remember that when they fall in the wrong hands, your beneficiaries might end up losing their inheritance.
- Safe Deposit Box
A safe deposit box with the right services provider protects the documents from different disasters. A problem arises when the beneficiaries need to open it after your demise.
Studies show that your physical documents are at higher risk to theft that your digital documents.
After storing the documents, make sure you assign someone close to you to act as a joint account holder. This makes sure you have someone to access the box after you are long gone.
- With Your Lawyer
Another viable possibility is to keep the original copies of the document with your estate planning attorney. However, this is not a good idea if you have many documents that you need to store because it might inconvenience the lawyer.
- In a Safe at Home
If you have a secure safe installed in your home, you can decide to keep your original documents in it. However, ensure this place is secure at all times. The only downside is that if you get burgled, it is highly likely that the thieves will carry it away thinking it contains valuables.
So, unless the safe is secured to the foundation of the house, then this might turn out to be a bad decision when it comes to document storage.
- At Work
If you own an office with a safe that is secure at all times, then you can store your documents in it. However, you need to be sure that you will retain the office till your demise; otherwise it will be a waste.
- Safe Deposit Box
Getting Access to the Documents
Now that you know where the deceased stored the documents, the next step is to get access to them. What usually happens?
If you know the person with permission to access the documents, contact them and request them to retrieve the documents.
If the person refuses, the next best option is to opt for a court order that you serve them to allow you to know the contents of the box. Normally, you have to work with an estate planning lawyer to draft the necessary request to the court to open the boxes. However, this might take longer than you wish, and it is usually expensive because it requires a lawyer to be present. This translates into legal fees.
Many people, upon drafting their estate planning documents, hide them where their beneficiaries won’t get them. This is a bad decision because it will lead to bottlenecks when the time comes to distribute the estate. Talk to your estate planning lawyer to retain a few duplicates of your documents. This is true because when the originals get lost or damaged, the attorney can easily come up with other copies for you.