5 Things To Do Now February 15, 2012
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might remember that my Dad passed away six months ago. Since that time, my siblings and I have been going through the legal hoops to make sure we’re doing everything required of us, to settle his and my Mom’s financial affairs. While he paid great attention to details, even he didn’t have his bank accounts in their trust.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with a “Treasured Home”!? Well, I’m glad you asked! There are so many elements that go into creating a home you want to share with your family and friends. It may surprise you to hear me say this, but we need more than beautiful “things” to create a beautiful home. For me, I’ll be more at peace, once I finally finish following my own advice!
I’m of the mind that a person’s home holds a sort of “energy”. And part of creating a positive, peaceful environment, is being prepared for the what-if’s of life. Trust me, I haven’t always been good about this kind of stuff…but seeing what can happen when the “T’s” aren’t crossed and all the “I’s” aren’t dotted, has been a real “wake-up call” for me.
Now, let me preface this bit of advice with a BIG note of caution! I am not a financial planner, estate attorney or a friend of one. I’m simply telling you these things based on my short-lived experience! I hope this list will save you some frustration, or at least get you thinking…
1. If you have anything of value and want your heirs to receive as much of your material assets as possible, create a living trust. A will by itself isn’t good enough. Without a living trust of some kind, your assets will still go into probate. Probate gets the courts involved even more and will cost you extra estate attorney fees and slow down the distribution of your assets, anywhere from 8 months, up to years! Even savings, checking accounts and 401k’s, should go into your trust. Anything of value.
2. If your heirs aren’t old enough to manage your affairs, in the event of the unexpected, you’ll need to assign a trustee, to administer the trust until the heirs are old enough to do so. It’s always wise to ask the person, before assigning them the job. The trustee should be someone you trust implicitly and who’s responsible financially. They should know where your trust documents and other financial documents can be found. Information like your attorney’s name and phone number will certainly help.
3. Since accounts may need to be closed, it would be helpful to have copies of statements for all of your regular bills for insurance, utilities, charge cards, and phone numbers for gardeners, the housekeeper or caregivers, filed with your trust documents.
4. Fill out an Advanced Healthcare Directive, if you haven’t already done so. This will make your intentions clear, should your family or doctors need to make important decisions on your behalf. You can get this form on-line, from your doctor or attorney.
5. You never know what’s around the next corner, so take care of business. You’ll be glad you did! Your kids (friends or favorite charity) will thank you.