By Timothy S. Barkley, Sr. June 2015.
The vacation is all planned, tickets bought, pet sitters engaged, but … “Hon, did we ever sign that will?”
“What will? The one you downloaded? No, because we could never figure out the thing for the kids’ money.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, do you want to pull it up again?”
“Are you kidding? After the argument we got into last time?”
“Well, what about talking to a lawyer? There’s this guy the neighbors mentioned …”
Before you board the plane, make sure you’re not leaving legal chaos behind.
Your Will. Is your will up-to-date? Does it adequately provide for your assets and your loved ones? Was it drafted under a vastly different estate tax regime, and need uncomplicating? Or conversely, was it drafted before you accumulated your vast holdings, and need a bit more sophisticated approach?
Your Powers of Attorney. If you weren’t able to make decisions for yourself – or if you weren’t able to get home when you plan to – is there someone still local who can take care of your finances? Pay your bills? Access your funds?
Your Medical Directives. If the unthinkable happens, and you can’t articulate a clear decision about your own care, is there someone who can tell the medical professionals what care you want to receive and for how long? Is there someone like that who won’t be on the plane with you?
Your Beneficiary Designations. IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance policies all have beneficiaries. Do these still reflect reality? Do you have contingent beneficiaries in case your primary beneficiary and you hurtle uncontrollably to the ground together?
Your Important Documents. Does someone still here or hereabouts know where to find your important documents? Do you even know where they are? Are they someplace secure?
Your Important People. Have you taken the time to list the important people in your life, and how to contact them? Your lawyer (obviously!), accountant, broker, insurance agent(s), benefits and retirement offices, doctors, others with important roles in your life. It takes a long time for someone from outside to reconstruct the picture of your life and fill in the blanks with all the right names.
Your Important Stuff. Do you have a list of your accounts and asset custodians, with account numbers and contact information? If not, it can take months or years for someone (even a loved one) to figure out what you owned, waiting for mail to come in. How about your safe deposit box – does someone know where to go, what box number, where to find the key? Are they authorized to enter the box?
Taking an hour to gather and review – and update – these and other important items can make life easier for those you might leave behind, and will let you vacate with an easier mind. A few minutes and – maybe – a few dollars in that regard might be a wise investment.
Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
Wills & Trusts | Estate Planning | Probates & Estates
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