A dreaded process lots of us put off or avoid is our last will and testament. Let’s face it, without one, you leave behind turmoil and probate. You don’t want to line lawyers’ pockets and leave your survivors in limbo for an indeterminate length of time.
Get a nice wide binder and a big package of sheet protectors. As you collect and fill out your personal information, you’ll now have a place to keep all your documents properly. A file cabinet with individual and alphabetically filed folders sounds organized, but someone must search through them without a clue about what they need. The other famous solution is the old shoebox under the bed mindset. Be nice. Think twice.
Your bank or financial planner may supply you with a Personal Record Keeper or facsimile. This is a must-have. I love mine. Your financial history will be in one place saving your loved ones tedious hours or days searching for necessary documents. My only complaint is this isn’t electronic. I much rather type and print off a neat and clean record instead of what I have now. My handwriting is sometimes shaky if I write more than my signature. I suppose the reason is too much keyboarding and not enough writing, plus I have arthritic thumbs.
I spent an hour typing all the information from my booklet, then noticed it is copyrighted material and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part. Instead I will give you what I remember off the top of my head. Do try to obtain a Personal Record Keeper of some kind. Filling one out has been a time-consuming undertaking because I had to dig and search for information as I filled in the blanks, but the effort is worth it. Doing this, I can imagine what a favour this is for any family. If I had to search high and low and I know my house better than anyone, well… I had no idea how interesting I am. A lot of numbers are associated with my name and I’m not talking about dollars either. Bank account numbers, passwords, codes, and on and on. I am truly amazed and a little amused. I look back now and see this all like a movie reel.
You need all your information organized before you prepare your will. If you take the time to plan ahead, you’ll be surprised how much time and money, and going back and forth to the lawyer you’ll save with these documented details at your fingertips.
We’ve all heard of the Will Kit. It is legal here but lawyers will tell you people don’t fill them out properly. If you use a kit, make sure you get it notarised to clear up any doubts now. What will peace of mind cost you? I’ve heard it’s around $50.00 or so.
Some of the details about your life:
- Family information: all names of members plus individual information
- Names of providers: heat, hydro internet, papers, etc.
- What you own (savings, real estate, etc.)
- Benefit plans and relevant information
- What you owe
- Insurance plans (what kind(s) and relevant information
- All banking formation and relevant information
- Advisors (financial, etc.)
- Any businesses owned and relevant information
- Wills, safety deposit, passport etc.
- Birth certificates, funeral arrangements, safety codes, passwords
- Computer passwords
As well, check out something called an Estate Planning Checklist. This if for Canada (but must be similar).
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I’ve had some questions from some of you when I ended the Dust to Dust posts that warmed my heart and made me smile. Nice to hear anyone of you hopes all is well with me. It is.Than YOU. The kick in the pants finally came, to accomplish what I’ve been putting off way too long, because I’m taking a lovely long trip end of next month. I decided this is the time to get my life in order, but that’s another post.