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. 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.
  7. Retirement

    No Estate Plan? Here's Why You Need One

    Creating an estate plan now can have a tremendous impact on your own life and your family.
  8. 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.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Estate Planning

    The collection of preparation tasks that serve to manage an individual's ...
  2. Estate Tax

    A tax levied on an heir's inherited portion of an estate if the ...
  3. Hospital Visitation Authorization

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

    A document commonly used in real estate transactions, detailing ...
  5. Legacy Planning

    Legacy planning is a financial strategy that prepares a person ...
  6. Personal Finance

    Personal finance: all financial decisions and activities of an ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Expense Ratio

    A measure of what it costs an investment company to operate a mutual fund. An expense ratio is determined through an annual ...
  2. Mezzanine Financing

    A hybrid of debt and equity financing that is typically used to finance the expansion of existing companies. Mezzanine financing ...
  3. Long Run

    A period of time in which all factors of production and costs are variable. In the long run, firms are able to adjust all ...
  4. Quasi Contract

    A legal agreement created by the courts between two parties who did not have a previous obligation to each other. A normal ...
  5. Wage-Price Spiral

    A macroeconomic theory to explain the cause-and-effect relationship between rising wages and rising prices, or inflation. ...
  6. Value At Risk - VaR

    A statistical technique used to measure and quantify the level of financial risk within a firm or investment portfolio over ...
Trading Center