One of the primary reasons testators sit down to draft their will is to ensure that it’s clear what they’d like to happen with their assets after they’re gone. Testators generally think that, by having a will in place, things can be transferred more quickly to their intended beneficiaries than if there were no will. That’s only a partially true assumption, however.
There are often unexpected delays during the probate process because a testator wasn’t as clear about their assets or beneficiaries as they could have been. Let’s look at a two things you can do to make your estate easier to settle.
Help your executor identify your beneficiaries
Many testators list the names of their beneficiaries in their estate planning documents, but they don’t provide adequate information that would aid an executor in tracking them down.
Executors must reach out to all of a testator’s beneficiaries to inform them of the death and have them sign paperwork. This must occur before any transfer of property happens. Include the following information for your beneficiaries in your will to effectuate the quick transfer of assets:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
These few details will allow an executor to confirm the identity of your beneficiaries. You should also keep current contact information on hand so your executor can reach out to them when the time comes.
Maintain an accurate list of your assets
Some people are upfront about their finances with others, whereas others are less than forthright about them. One responsibility that executors have is to inventory all your assets and to reach out to your creditors to settle up with them.
You can help your executor complete these duties expeditiously by keeping an accurate inventory of all your valuable assets, including their location. You might also want to keep a detailed list of your bank accounts, debtors and any other financial information that may need to be addressed during the probate process.
There are numerous other steps that you can take now to minimize the work that your executor will have to do. You’ll want to do these now so that your family doesn’t have to deal with them as they’re grieving your loss.