Estate Planning and Organization

Tip – Consider organizing your records so your family won’t have to.

A rather mundane aspect of estate planning is the organizing of your documents and records. Getting your legal documents, financial plans, important personal information, and healthcare directives arranged in a way that makes sense to those who will be handling your affairs is a wonderful gift to your family.

When we don’t plan, it places a burden on our families and can lead to unintended consequences. Here are two examples. First example, after a man passed away, his personal representative went into his home to try to figure out what needed to be done. When he walked into the kitchen, he saw papers piled high, covering the whole table. There were bank statements, insurance policies, investment and pension information, etc.

The personal representative proceeded to call and verify the status of all the accounts he found in the papers. After spending over 100 hours, the personal representative determined that only three bank accounts and one insurance policy were still active. Had the man organized his papers and gotten rid of any papers that were no longer current, he would have saved the personal representative a lot of time and his estate a lot of money.

Second example, a father had a stroke that left him with limited speech. The father recovered from the stroke but only had a vocabulary of about 50 words. One day the father came to his son and said, ”Insurance.” By asking a series of questions, the son determined that the father was concerned about life insurance. The son asked, “Do you have a life insurance policy?” The father replied, “Find out.” So, the son went to all the insurance companies in town and asked if they had a life insurance policy on the father. None of the agents said they had a policy. The father continued to indicate he had a life insurance policy but could not tell the son where it was. The man eventually passed away and no life insurance policy was ever found. The father’s family may have lost out on getting the death benefit from an insurance policy that the father may have paid premiums on for years.

Organizing your records and giving appropriate instructions to those who will handle your affairs is an important part of planning your estate. In the next tip, I will talk about how this can be done effectively.

View our “Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” on our website! Packer Elder Care Law – with you for life!

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

January 2023