Estate planning can be a difficult topic to think about – this does not take away from its importance. It’s a necessary part of life. Sometimes estate planning isn’t about the plan itself, it’s about preparation, about ensuring your spouse is prepared in the event of your death and about thinking about questions that otherwise wouldn’t come to mind.
It’s critical to consider your wishes and how you foresee your estate being divided among your relatives, heirs and other individuals after your death. A solid estate plan protects your wishes and the best interests of your loved ones. Below are three questions that might fall outside of traditional estate planning considerations, but are no less important.
1. Is my spouse prepared?
This question is especially important if you are the individual responsible for handling your family’s finances and planning strategy. Preparation starts with information. Many times married couples plan their estates together. However, if you plan your estate separately, making sure your spouse is familiar with your estate plan and understands your intentions is critical. If you are planning your estate separately, ensuring that your spouse is familiar with your estate planning lawyer or financial advisor is essential. Because your spouse will be working with this individual, making sure a familiar relationship is in place is of the utmost importance. To better prepare your spouse, consider setting up an appointment with your estate planning lawyer to make introductions and to discuss the details of your plan.
2. Does my spouse have access to all accounts?
Once again, like question number one, if your spouse is not familiar with your financial dealings, the event of your passing could cause unneeded additional stress and frustration. Be sure that you keep accurate records of all accounts, along with access information and that your spouse will have the access he or she needs in the future.
Take the time to walk your spouse through your various accounts and answer any questions. Make sure he or she understands how to access funds. Create a few lists that are kept in a safe but easy to access location. The lists should include:
- A password lists of all accounts and memberships
- A general list of all accounts and memberships along with access information and instructions
- A list of the estate planning documents you have created and where or with whom they can be found.
- A contact list of all individuals involved in creating and carrying out your estate plan.
3. Have I reviewed my plan, will and beneficiaries lately?
This question is critical for estate planning. Take the time to review your plan on a regular basis – are you due for any adjustments? It’s especially important to review your estate plan when any major life events take place – births, marriages, deaths, career changes, and so on.
Documents and accounts to review regularly include retirement plan accounts, life insurance policies, any annuities, investment accounts and more.
Estate planning can be a complicated process that is full of emotion. To ensure your wishes are carried out, consider working with an experienced estate planning attorney like Michael Cherewka of Cherewka Law. We look forward to working with you.