One of the easiest ways to ensure that an estate can quickly pay outstanding debts and transfer assets to heirs and beneficiaries is to keep documents organized and easy to access. A good idea may be to keep digital copies of these documents on a computer file. It is also important that one person or a few trusted friends or family members know where these documents are kept and how to access them.
As insurance policies may have strict and complex rules as to how survivor benefits are paid out, it is important to let heirs know about their existence and where they are located. It is also important to let them know about any insurance policy that may have been in effect at the time of a person’s death, such as a car insurance, homeowners insurance or boat insurance policy.
All financial information should be made available to a person’s heirs to make it easier to properly settle an estate upon the testator’s death. Failing to disclose information about an investment account or the fact that an old bill was never paid could trigger taxes and penalties that the children of a deceased person may have to pay out of their own pocket before they are able to access the estate’s funds. Putting an adult child on key medical or home loan accounts may make it possible to settle those debts quickly and with limited cost to the heirs.
Creating an organized estate plan may make it easier to settle an estate and allow a family to gain closure after a loved one dies. Talking to an estate attorney may make it possible to get relevant documents organized or updated in a timely manner. An estate planning attorney may also be able to advise an individual as to the benefits of a trust versus a will in addition to other considerations.
Source: Reuters, “CORRECTED-YOUR MONEY-What should be in your “death” file”, Beth Pinsker, August 01, 2014