Imagine your loved ones digging through papers while in a state of grief? Unfortunately, this is what happens when there is a death in the family before affairs are put in order. For additional incentives to get organized, legal experts remind us that good estate planning even attends to arrangements for ourselves—should we become disabled or face a sudden decline in capacity.
A Shoe Box Full of Papers…
…is not, of course, an estate plan! Legal experts compare the importance of proactively preparing an estate plan to secure flood insurance: we cannot wait until the water is gushing to get coverage. JD Supra offers this advice about estate planning:
It saves family members from playing detective. Don’t make your loved ones spend precious time trying to piece together your financial situation by digging through shoe boxes in your closet filled with old bank statements, piles of mail, and tax returns. Make it easy for them — keep a simple notebook listing your bank accounts, CDs, investment accounts, and retirement plans, along with information about your sources of income and the names of your financial advisor, tax preparer, and lawyer. And be sure to let your family know where the notebook, along with your important papers, can be found.
Estate planning covers disability as well as death. If you are faced with a medical crisis or a nursing home situation, your family members will need to know your financial information and your wishes regarding your medical care — and be able to act upon them. A properly drafted Financial Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive will let them act on your behalf, and an inventory of your income and assets will allow them to do everything from paying your mortgage to feed your dog.
Making a Will and Designating An Executor
Although trusts are helpful in some circumstances, for many of us, a basic last will and testament will go a long way toward leaving our affairs in order for loved ones. Importantly, when creating your last will and testament, you will also designate someone, typically a family member or friend, to administer your affairs after you die. Generally, this person is referred to as an executor, though in some areas of the country personal representative is used. Your designee has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of your estate and beneficiaries.That’s why executor bonds can be reassuring to everyone involved. Sometimes these bonds are specifically requested during the probate process. Essentially, an executor bond is a type of fiduciary bond—it guarantees the faithful performance of the executor in accordance with the law. Colonial Surety Company makes it quick and easy to get an executor bond: that you just get a quote online, fill in essential information, enter a payment method and download or print the bond. Executor Bond Here.
The More You Share, The Better
Once you have designated an executor, do take the time to communicate your intentions, as well as to review pragmatics—like where to find important documents and passwords. Don’t forget to provide an understanding of routine monthly bills as well. After all, a few months of stacked-up correspondence can create headaches—and even lead to penalty fees. If there is a pet in the picture don’t forget to share those plans with your executor too. It is of course a big help if you can attend to funeral arrangements and other personal wishes in advance—and share those with your executor as well.
Good To Know: Help for Lawyers
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.