A:

Estate planning is one of those topics that most people avoid dealing with until they're forced to. Because of this, many people find themselves in a bind when a loved one passes away. By having an up-to-date estate plan, as well as keeping your key documents well-organized, you can ensure your partner or heirs are not over-burdened in a time of loss.

It'd be wise to have an "estate-planning folder" tucked away somewhere safe, with updated copies of all your pertinent documents. This naturally would include a will, and for most investors, a living trust. It should also include up-to-date copies of all your beneficiary designations (who gets the money if you die) for your retirement plans and life insurance. Lastly, it should include a list of all of your assets held by other parties such as bank and brokerage accounts.

It'd also be wise to include in this folder, copies of any medical directives, durable powers of attorney and living wills you may have. These documents give specific instructions and delegate specific decision-making ability in the event that you become incapacitated. Likewise, you should include a list of any last wishes you might have regarding your burial and memorial service.

For further reading, see Getting Started On Your Estate Plan and Six Estate Planning Must-Haves.


This question was answered by Ken Clark.

RELATED FAQS
  1. What is estate planning?

    Estate planning involves making plans for the transfer of your estate after death. Your estate is all the property that you ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    In-Depth Guide To Estate Planning

    The process of planning your estate takes careful consideration. Skip any of these important steps, and your estate could be mishandled.
  2. Retirement

    Will Your Estate Plan Create Stress for Loved Ones?

    When it comes to financial planning, many people overlook the critical aspect of estate planning.
  3. Retirement

    4 Estate Planning Documents You Need to Have

    Here's the lowdown on the four essential legal documents you need – right now – to have in place before you die.
  4. Retirement

    Estate Planning: 16 Things Prince (and You) Should Have Done

    The must-do list Prince and his advisors should have completed to avoid leaving his family without a will and an estate plan.
  5. Financial Advisor

    Why Estate Planning Is Easier Than You Think

    When done properly, estate planning ensures that your beneficiaries receive your assets in a way that is controlled by you. Here is how to do it right.
  6. Managing Wealth

    Getting Started On Your Estate Plan

    With some preparation, you can save your heirs from paying a hefty estate tax. Here are some tips.
  7. Financial Advisor

    5 Ways to Mess Up Estate Planning

    There are several ways to make an estate plan defective, most of which can be easily avoided by periodic plan reviews.
  8. Retirement

    Make It Legal When You Retire

    If you haven’t done your estate planning, named a power of attorney and considered your legacy, you still have some pre-retirement tasks to address.
  9. Managing Wealth

    Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die

    If you don’t plan your estate, your surviving family may have to deal with disputes and probate that were avoidable.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Estate Planning

    The collection of preparation tasks that serve to manage an individual's ...
  2. Hospital Visitation Authorization

    A document that indicates who is allowed to visit a patient in ...
  3. Closing Statement

    A document commonly used in real estate transactions, detailing ...
  4. Retirement Planning

    Retirement planning is the process of determining retirement ...
  5. LLC Operating Agreement

    An LLC Operating Agreement is a document that customizes the ...
  6. Heads Of Agreement

    A non-binding document outlining the main issues relevant to ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Interest Expense

    The cost incurred by an entity for borrowed funds. Interest expense is a non-operating expense shown on the income statement. ...
  2. Call Option

    An agreement that gives an investor the right (but not the obligation) to buy a stock, bond, commodity, or other instrument ...
  3. Pro-Rata

    Used to describe a proportionate allocation. A method of assigning an amount to a fraction, according to its share of the ...
  4. Private Placement

    The sale of securities to a relatively small number of select investors as a way of raising capital.
  5. AAA

    The highest possible rating assigned to the bonds of an issuer by credit rating agencies. An issuer that is rated AAA has ...
  6. Backward Integration

    A form of vertical integration that involves the purchase of suppliers. Companies will pursue backward integration when it ...
Trading Center