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. Managing Wealth

    Pros/Cons of Storing Estate-Planning Papers Online

    Digital storage takes the hassle out of keeping track of estate-planning paperwork, but there are a few significant drawbacks.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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

    Estate Planning Tips for Financial Advisors

    Estate planning is not a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. Here are some tips for you and your clients.
  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.
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. Legacy Planning

    Legacy planning is a financial strategy that prepares a person ...
  4. Estate

    A person's estate is everything comprising the net worth of an ...
  5. Heir

    HeirA person who inherits some or all of the estate of another ...
  6. Exemption Trust

    A trust whose purpose is to drastically reduce or eliminate federal ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Chartered Financial Analyst - CFA

    A professional designation given by the CFA Institute (formerly AIMR) that measures the competence and integrity of financial ...
  2. Initial Coin Offering (ICO)

    An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is an unregulated means by which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture.
  3. The Bernie Madoff Story

    Bernie Madoff ran a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that is considered the largest financial fraud of all time.
  4. Pyramid Scheme

    An illegal investment scam based on a hierarchical setup. New recruits make up the base of the pyramid and provide the funding, ...
  5. Ponzi Scheme

    A fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The Ponzi scheme generates returns ...
  6. SEC Form 13F

    A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), also known as the Information Required of Institutional Investment ...
Trading Center