MAKING FINAL ARRANGEMENTS
A GIFT TO LEAVE YOUR HEIRS
All estates are different. And each state has different laws. The use of an attorney is invaluable in getting your affairs in order.
The following are general suggestions to familiarize yourself with some terms and a general understanding of estates.
Make sure all bank accounts have direct beneficiaries. The beneficiary will need the Death Certificate (an original, not a copy), and their photo ID. Be sure to purchase extra copies of Death Certificates, they could be necessary for life insurance policies also.
A POD accounts stands for “payable on death” and is usually used with bank accounts such as checking, savings or Certificates of Deposit.
TOD are “transfer on death” accounts and are usually used with brokerage accounts, stocks, bonds and other investments.
– Living Will: Allows one to put in writing exactly what you want done in the event you cannot speak for yourself when it comes to healthcare decisions
– Durable Power of Attorney: Allows one to designate a person to make legal decisions if one is no longer competent to do so.
– Power of Attorney for Healthcare: This document allows one to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for their person.
– Last Will and Testament: Designates to whom personal belongings will go too.
– Funeral Planning Declaration: allows one to say exactly one’s wishes as far as disposition of the body and the services.
– Establishing a trust. Ask your attorney if a Trust is the right thing for you. Trusts can help you avoid probate.
– If you do end up going through probate you will probably have to open an estate account at the bank. All money that doesn’t have direct beneficiaries goes into this account. The attorney also has to publicize your passing in the newspaper.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to make a list of all banks and account numbers, all investment institutions with account numbers, lists of credit cards, utility accounts, etc. Leave clear instructions as to how and when these things are paid. Make sure heirs knows where life insurance policies are located.
– Make 100% sure SOMEONE knows your Apple ID, bank ID account logins and passwords! If you have a safe deposit box, give the key to someone you trust, and get them access to the box.
– Make sure you have titles for all vehicles, campers, etc!
– Is your home paid off? If not, how will the mortgage payments be made? Have your attorney make suggestions about how to handle the deed.
– Do you have pets? Have plans in place for their care. If you don’t have family members or friends who are able to take over their care, have a reputable rescue group identified and alerted as to your wishes, and put this in writing. Try to avoid taking beloved family pets to an animal shelter if at all possible.
– MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!! – Talk with those closest to you and make all your wishes KNOWN. Talk to those whom you’ve designated, as well as those close to you whom you did not designate. – Do this to explain why your decisions were made and to avoid any lingering questions or hurt feelings. If you change the will at any time, let all parties know. Put everything in writing!
Hope this helps. Hope this lights a spark to encourage all your friends and family to take care of these things to make it easier for those we all leave behind!