Tips for getting your estate organized

It can be uncomfortable to think about what will happen with your estate, but it is a necessity if you want your wishes known. For most, procrastination is the biggest stumbling block.

You may need medical care as you get older. Planning for your physical and financial care is an important step in your personal well-being. By creating a living will, you avoid any confusion about what to do if you are incapacitated for any reason.

People fear getting organized as if it were a jinx to discuss it. That could not be further from the truth. Having your wishes on paper and letting someone know where your paperwork is kept, will avoid misunderstandings and can even save heirs money in the long run.

You should keep your estate information in one location, if possible. A safe, safe deposit box or even a file cabinet can hold your important papers. A list of your accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, financial adviser and any other necessary contacts should be included.

The following information should be kept together for your estate:
• Will, living will, trusts
• Stock certificates
• Bank account information including savings, checking, CDs or other accounts
• Life or other insurance information
• Car titles
• Mortgage information or deeds
• Outstanding loan information
• Social Security paperwork
• Marriage and/or divorce paperwork
• Birth certificate
• Any funeral plans, if they have been made in advance

Do not forget about your personal effects. Jewelry, coins, silver or other valuables are often kept in hiding places. Even your non-valuable personal belongings should be given consideration. When emotions are running high and family members are distraught, arguments can ensue if everything is not spelled out in plain language.

Ask your family members now which of your belongings they love and it will make things easier when it comes time to decide which person gets what. Maybe they love a glass figurine or a cookbook. Often times the most treasured belongings are not the most expensive.

Do you have a favorite charity? If you want a donation to be made from your estate to a non-profit, information needs to be in your will or put in writing. Personal loans to friends or family members should also be in writing.

Sleep better at night knowing your final wishes will be fulfilled. Estate planning is not just for people who have a lot of money and property. This is something everyone needs.

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