I have been writing about how to use this post-tax spring season to refresh your legal and financial documents so that, when something happens to you, your loved ones have the documents and information they need. When doing spring cleaning, there is inevitably a chore I do not want to do – some deep cleaning, usually with a toothbrush, that is just down right unpleasant. But I do it anyway. Usually because I know it needs to be done to take care of my family. The same is true for gathering documents and information that your loved ones will need after you have passed away. By gathering these things now, you can streamline the process for your family members and friends. In addition to the documents I listed in my last article, here are some additional documents or information your loved ones should have after you’ve passed away:
1. Debt Statements: When you have passed away, what you own needs to pay off any outstanding debt you had. I recommend keeping a copy of the year end statement for your credit cards, vehicle loan, mortgage, and any other debts, in one place so that your loved ones can easily locate these debts and have them paid off before your creditors state calling them.
2. Deeds and Vehicle Titles: Additionally, your loved ones need to know what your assets are. Since you already included your tax return with year-end statements (see my last article), you should add a copy of your deeds and your original car titles. It can save the family a lot of expense and hassle if they do not have to look these documents up, or order duplicate originals of the titles from DMV.
3. Key Professionals: Locating your key business contacts can give your family member and friends a wealth of information during a difficult time. I recommend listing the name, address, and contact information for your financial advisor, tax professional, insurance representatives, attorney, and other professionals you regularly work with.
4. Will or Trust: A will and trust will give your loved ones guidance about how you want your assets distributed and managed.
5. Memorial Instructions: One of the most difficult things for your loved ones after you have died is going through the process of planning a funeral or memorial service. When you pre-arrange a memorial service, include a copy of the receipt and plans so your loved ones can locate it. If you cannot make pre-arrangements, then I recommend that you outline what you would like for a service, including your choice for disposition of your remains, any scripture or songs you would like included, and where you would like any flowers or memorial funds directed.
As you work to deep clean your house this spring, take a few minutes to spring clean your legal and financial documents. I have found that this time of year is an excellent time of year not just to air out the sheets and clean the carpets, but to make sure everything is in order so that your loved ones can take care of you.
Cassandra Jones is an elder law and family law attorney in Gardnerville. She can be reached at 782-0040.