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When you die will your family have an easy time dealing with all of your financial affairs? We understand that talking about your death or even planning for your death is hard to discuss. Below are a few helpful guidelines to remind you what you should review and update in order to help your family deal with your accounts.

  • Make sure your estate planning documents are up to date.  A will, a trust, a power of attorney for property, and a power of attorney for healthcare are the basic must have documents that will make it easy for your family to care for you. These documents will do nothing for you if they are not properly completed, witnessed, and notarized per Illinois state law. It really is in your and your family’s best interest to work with an attorney who focuses their practice on estate planning. Would you go to a podiatrist for brain surgery? No, and I wouldn’t go to a personal injury lawyer to have your estate plan completed.
  • Check the beneficiaries on your bank/investment accounts. Just because a person dies doesn’t mean that all their bills go away. You will want your family to have quick and easy access to your bank account funds. The way to guarantee your family has access to your bank accounts is to make sure each account has a payable-on-death provision that transfers the account immediately after you die. This process will bypass any creditors you may have upon your death.
  • Create a master list. I can not tell you how many clients (executors/administrators/trustees) I have had who tell me that they can’t find the deceased’s documents, or they do not know what the deceased owned at their death. It benefits everyone involved if you create a cheat sheet that lists out every investment, insurance policy and debt you have, and it is kept current. Not doing this sets in motion an endless search by your family, who will forever wonder if they have found everything you owned.
    • Your master list of financial accounts should include:
      • Bank accounts
      • Investment accounts
      • 401(k)
      • Pensions
      • Life insurance
      • Home insurance
      • Credit cards
      • Loans: mortgage, car, etc.
      • Titles and deeds to your cars and home.

As adults, sometimes you have to answer the tough questions to help your family. Your family will have enough to deal with at the time of your passing, and in completing the above, they will have a few things less to worry about.