Oct 2014 By David Lefton | Cincinnati Estate Planning Lawyer
Oct 20 - 26th is National Estate Planning Awareness Week
Florence Griffith-Joyner, a triple gold medalist at the 1988 Olympics, died at the age of 38. Allegedly, she prepared a Will that was never located. As you can imagine, disputes that took years to resolve arose over what was purportedly in the Will.
If something happened to you today, are your important documents organized so they can be located in the event of an emergency? If not, consider collecting the following information and telling your family where it is:
Wills and Trusts – Nearly everyone needs a will, and a trust can be beneficial for some. Have you provided your attorney’s contact information? Have you reviewed your documents since they were prepared? Marriage, children, grandchildren, divorce, retirement, disability, and real estate purchases may be cause for updating.
Living Will, Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions – These inexpensive and easily prepared documents provide peace of mind, but only if you have told your family where they are.
Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, and Military Discharge Records - Originals or certified copies are necessary to obtain federal survivor benefits.
Deeds to Real Estate - Are there provisions for survivorship rights or transfer on death, so that property transfers as you intend?
Mortgages, Promissory Notes, and Loan Agreements - Have you listed account information and payment due dates?
Registrations and Titles - Is ownership current for cars, boats, trailers, and vehicles, and if old loans have been paid off, have their liens been removed from the titles?
Financial Accounts - Are account statements organized for checking, savings, money market, mutual fund, and brokerage accounts, and for certificate of deposits? Do they include current interest rates and maturity dates, and banker or broker contact information?
Retirement Accounts - Have you listed account information for IRA, 401-k, employer pension plan, or other retirement accounts? Are the beneficiaries current?
Credit Cards - Have you a list of current cards, with addresses and account numbers?
Insurance Policies - Have you listed policy numbers and agent contacts for home, life, annuity, health, disability, long term care, and automobile policies?
Safety Deposit Box - Have you inventoried the contents and provided location, box number, and key? Have you granted access rights to any family members?
Combinations and Passwords - Have you provided safe and lock combinations, and passwords to computers and on-line accounts?
Tax Records - Are your federal and state income tax returns organized, with amounts and due dates for any estimated tax payments, and contact information for your accountant?
Business Records - If you own a business, are any partnership, operating, or buy-sell agreements accessible and up to date?
Take a few moments to review this list with those you love and who depend on you. The help of an estate planning attorney on any necessary organization and revision will do much to assure your piece of mind.
David H. Lefton is an Estate Planning and Probate Attorney. He is a partner in the law firm of Barron, Peck, Bennie & Schlemmer located on Oakley Square. For more information on estate planning related topics, see David’s personal website at www.DavidLefton.com or contact David directly at 513-399-PLAN (7526).