If you have made a will, you have probably also designated an executor to carry out the intentions expressed in it. Good for you—these are tasks many of us just can’t seem to bring ourselves to do. Next step: organize the information and documents your executor and family will need—and appreciate—when you die.
As NOLO points out, estate planning is about legal issues—and a whole lot more. Much of what our families and friends will be concerned about when we die is not typically included in documents like wills. For example, who needs to be notified when we die? Do we have intentions for burial services and plans? Is there a favorite charity for donations? What about the credit card and other bills—yikes, the family certainly doesn’t need to incur penalty fees, right? What’s the password for that online bank account? On and on it goes once we start considering what those carrying on after us will need to attend to do. Where exactly is all this information? Nowhere—except inside your head—unless you consciously organize it and share it with your executor and other family members or friends.
Arm Your Executor
It’s of course essential that the executor of your will is prepared to carry out their duties when the time comes. That’s who everyone will be turning to when you die. Even if it’s only “pen and paper” notes, provide as much pragmatic information as you can. Being as organized as possible also allows you to periodically have a heart to heart conversation with your executor, making sure they have the time and capacity to serve in the role. Sometimes relatives ultimately wish someone else would fulfill this role—giving them time to grieve. That’s understandable and better to know so that other arrangements can be made.
Consider too the importance of an executor bond which can be reassuring to everyone involved. Sometimes these bonds are even specifically requested by probate courts. Executors are fiduciaries—they are obligated to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries. An executor bond (sometimes also referred to as a probate or estate 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 so quick and easy to get an executor bond online that that you can do it right here, now. Just get a quote online, fill in essential information, enter a payment method and download or print the bond.
Organizing Your Documents
NOLO advises beginning by organizing your information in broad categories, such as:
- funeral plans (arrangements and whom to notify)
- insurance policies
- wills, living trusts, deeds, and other important documents
- pensions and retirement accounts
- bank, money market, and mutual fund accounts
- stocks and bonds
- items in safes, safe deposit boxes, and other locked or hidden places, and
- family history, including the location of photographs, heirlooms, and other irreplaceable items.
If you are unsure where to begin, keep in mind that life insurance policies and retirement accounts are examples of assets passed outside of wills, making them important to keep updated and share with your executor. At some point, while you have the time, you may also want to give particular attention to your digital assets. As you pull your information together, even if it is just in a folder that everyone important knows where to find, you can continuously add to, up-date and improve upon its clarity. Be sure to keep it in a safe space—and to let your executor know where that is.
Good To Know: Help for Estate 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.