I have discussed with clients many times about what are the most important estate planning documents and where should these important documents be kept. I will answer the second question first. Over the years I have seen far too many safe deposit box keys turn up after death and the family has no idea where the box is. For this, and other reasons, I have become more a proponent of fire proof lock boxes or safes. Plus, it’s a good idea to give a copy of your important documents information to your kids, loved ones or other trusted people including your attorney. Now, to answer the first question, what are those crucial and important estate planning documents to keep!?
BASIC ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS
Power of attorney for financial affairs
Power of attorney for health care or “living will” or health care directive
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) if you have one
Certified Extract of Trust
OTHER IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS
Grant or quitclaim deed for house (or other document, such as Court order, wherein you received the house or a portion of the house)
Deeds of reconveyance (when mortgages are paid off)
Current bank account information
Current stock or investment account information (or actual original stock certificates if you still have those)
Current retirement accounts such as IRAs, 401ks, 403bs, pensions, etc….
Current life insurance and annuity information
Car titles (“pink slips”)
List of creditors or liabilities
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
List of all passwords, user-names, and the like (but be very careful with this)
Marriage licenses (or divorce paperwork)
Adoption paperwork for you or any of your kids
Death certificates for close family especially predeceased spouses
Tax returns for last 7 years
The key with all of this is MAKE IT EASY for your family or other trusted people to find all of your information and your assets. If it’s not easy they could lose assets, incur unnecessary fees, and who knows what else. Be organized and prepare for the inevitable!
Contact me with questions. -John
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