Congratulations! You’ve taken the necessary steps to plan out your estate if or when the unthinkable happens. But, now that you have these documents, what do you do next?
- Storage: Place your newly executed documents in a location that will be accessible by a loved one. Then, let your executors and/or alternate executors know exactly where the documents are located, and how they can be accessed. While uploading these documents onto your computer and sharing them with those who need it is helpful, ultimately the original documents will be required in either Probate proceedings or by the hospital or your financial institution.
- Update Beneficiaries: Your will and/or trust will only help to an extent. For your loved ones to avoid the probate process wherever possible, you’ll need to contact your financial institutions and/or employers to make sure that in the event of your passing, your executor and/or beneficiaries will have access to your accounts. By failing to do this, you’re requiring your beneficiaries to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of probate.
- If you had a trust created, “fund” the trust: For a trust to be valid, there must be property placed in the trust’s name. Therefore, determine which of your property you want to be owned by the trust, whether that is your home, your car, or a bank account. Then, make sure your attorney gets you the necessary documents to transfer the title of these items into the trust’s name.
- Revisit your estate planning: Just because you have signed those documents does not mean you are completely protected for the rest of your life. Changes in relationships or family dynamics; job loss or new jobs/promotions; and increase in finances are all reasons for you to look over your previously created estate plan and make sure changes are not required.