How Will My Trust or Estate Know What I Own?
Proper estate planning is not limited to making a will or trust. You also need to make sure the persons charged with administering that will or trust know how to locate all of your assets. At first glance, this might seem like a simple task. But considering how modern technology allows us to maintain a largely “paperless” existence, it can actually be more of a challenge than you might think.
For example, if you do all of your banking online or through your smartphone, and you stopped receiving paper statements altogether, how would the future executor of your estate–assuming it’s not someone you already live or share the account with–know these accounts even exist? Similarly, if you pay all of your monthly bills online, would your trustee know to stop these payments after you die?
So as you can see, it’s not enough to simply leave a will or trust with instructions on how to dispose of your property. You also need to let your fiduciaries know what property you have, where it is located, and how to access it when the time comes. With that in mind, here are a few basic tips:
- Make a printed list of everything you own
Sometimes the simplest methods work the best. You should make a physical, printed list of every asset you have, including account numbers and the approximate value of said asset. Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about checking accounts. If you have a health savings account (HSA) or a college savings account for your children, make sure those are listed. And of course, you should periodically review and revise the list (at least once a year) to ensure it is up-to-date.
- Keep the list somewhere safe
If you have a safe or lockbox in your home, you should keep the list there. If you would rather not keep the list at home, you can give it to your nominated executor, trustee, or estate planning attorney for safekeeping. One thing you should not do, however, is put it in a bank safe deposit box, as it may be difficult for your estate or family to access it right away after your death.
- Keep a written record of your common monthly bills
In addition to your assets, it is a good idea to keep a separate list of your recurring monthly bills and expenses. This will assist your estate or trust in notifying your creditors and closing any outstanding accounts. This list should include anything you currently pay automatically online. You can also make photocopies of any credit cards or account statements and include them with the list to assist with identification.
- Work with a Florida Estate Planning lawyer
An estate planning attorney can assist you in reviewing a wide range of forms related to your assets, such as life insurance and IRA beneficiary forms. It is critical to keep these forms updated to ensure they are consistent with your overall estate plan.
The qualified Fort Myers estate planning lawyers at the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., can assist you with a wide range of matters related to your will or trust. Call us today at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free confidential consultation.