Getting Your Estate Plan in Order

Losing a loved one can be emotionally, mentally and physically draining. However, death can also raise a number of legal complications for a family, especially if the deceased did not create a will prior to his/her passing. No family should have to grapple with this strain, while also grieving the loss of a loved one. If you do not have an estate plan, or want to make changes to an existing will, it is critical to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who can walk you through the most important estate planning steps.

Holding Estate Planning-Related Discussions with Family Members

There are several steps families should take when planning their estates, including discussing the issue of death openly with loved ones and family members. While it may be uncomfortable, having these discussions will ensure a person’s relatives are well aware of his/her end of life wishes and there is no confusion when it comes to administering the estate. Ultimately, taking this step can play a critical role in creating a smooth transitional experience after a testator passes away.

Reviewing Beneficiary Assignments

Reviewing one’s beneficiary assignments and ensuring they are both current and accurate is another important step in the estate planning process. This applies to a wide range of accounts and investments, including:

● Life insurance policies;
● Annuities;
● IRAs;
● 401(k) plans; and
● 403(b) plans

While these types of investments are passed to named beneficiaries, it is important testators contact the companies in question and request a copy of the name of the current beneficiary on file. Testators who wish to update their beneficiaries can and should do so at this point, after which, they should also ask for a letter from the company confirming the change.

Setting Up a Secure Filing System

The proper execution of a will requires a secure filing system that is easily accessible to an estate’s administrator, attorney, and family members. For this reason, testators are often encouraged to begin compiling important documents during the estate planning process, including: birth certificates, marriage licenses, copies of any divorce decrees, Social Security cards and military discharge papers. Testators should also consider writing down the location of the keys to any safe deposit boxes, listing benefits from current or past employers and noting names and contact information of their accountants, financial advisers, insurance agents and attorneys.

In addition to collecting physical copies of important estate-related documents, testators also may want to create a secure list of all passwords for online accounts, electronic files, PIN numbers, security system codes and cell phone passwords. Although this may seem obvious, taking this type of straightforward step can go a long way towards ensuring an estate plan is administered as smoothly as possible.

The Legal Representation You Deserve

To speak with one of the experienced Skokie estate planning attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law about creating a will, establishing a trust, or changing an existing estate plan, please call 847-325-5559 today.

Updated as of July 2019
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