Necessary Financial Decisions
Final financial decisions are very difficult to prepare in advance, but it is sensible to create a financial plan early on and modify it as needed. There are numerous things that must be considered when creating the financial side of an estate planning checklist. These include:
Bank accounts - Bank accounts—including savings accounts, checking accounts and certificates of deposit—should be noted in a record book with the name of the financial institution, the address and the account numbers. Additionally, the name(s) that are on the account should be included and if possible, the date opened. As years pass and new accounts are added they should be included in this register. This information can then be used in a will or trust to transfer assets to beneficiaries.
Retirement accounts - Many people have multiple retirement accounts including individual retirement accounts (IRAs) at banks, broker dealers or mutual funds. They may also have pension accounts with their employer and 401(k) or 403(b) plans or other retirement benefit accounts. The records of these should also be recorded along with the name of the beneficiary on each of these accounts. This will help avoid a great deal of confusion.
Real estate - Real estate should be documented including titles or deeds, outstanding mortgages and rental agreements, if they apply. This includes documentation regarding primary residences, vacation homes or investment properties. Having all of the documents in one place will allow those settling an estate to identify assets more readily. Information regarding ownership (individual, joint or corporate) should be included in the information gathered.
Insurance policies - Finally, insurance policies should all be gathered together. This includes life insurance, medical insurance and accident insurance. Additionally, homeowner policies, automobile policies or burial policies should also be collected and put into a single file. This will allow an estate administrator to quickly identify any benefits that need to be claimed by the estate, policies that need to be closed, etc.