When you are preparing your will, you spend a significant amount of time and thought to get everything right. You might work in close collaboration with a lawyer and financial adviser to make sure that every beneficiary gets exactly what you want them to have and that every tax advantage is considered. And significantly, you spend a great deal of time deciding on who you trust to be your executor. After all, this is the person or firm that is going to manage your estate and bring it through the probate court from beginning to end.
Help Your Executor Succeed
Good planning does not end upon selecting your executor and signing your will. In fact, proper planning involves setting your executor up to succeed. This means providing them a roadmap to all of the critical people and information they will need to manage your estate.
- Obtain a safety deposit box at a bank and store the original copy of your will in the box. Make a note of the bank and your deposit box number, and keep this note with the key in a secure location. Provide your attorney with a letter detailing the deposit box and the location of the key.
- Instruct your attorney to keep a copy of your will and inform them of the location of the original copy. Your will is the single most important document in the probate process. In addition, a copy of the will must be filed to initiate the probate proceedings.
- Maintain an updated list of your beneficiaries’ contact information, including address, cell phone numbers, and email addresses. Whenever there is an update to this list, print the latest version and place it in your safety deposit box.
- Create a comprehensive contact list of essential people, such as your attorney, doctor, financial advisers, CPA, Insurance Agents, employer, business partners.
- Consolidate copies of vital records, such as birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, pre and post-nuptial agreements, divorce decrees, insurance paperwork, and tax returns. Make these documents easily accessible to your executor.
- Continuously update a spreadsheet containing detailed descriptions of your assets and liabilities, including estimated values and their locations. This needs to be comprehensive and complete, as the executor must have the ability to quickly locate and secure all of your assets to protect the estate. Further, the executor needs a complete list of creditors so that they can be duly notified of the probate proceedings.
Organization and diligent record-keeping will go a long way toward getting your executor off on a good start. This will maximize the chances that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.
You Need an Attorney
If you are planning your estate, or if you have been named an executor of a will, we can help you succeed. For over twenty years, I have provided counsel for planning all sizes of estates and have also guided executors through the successful performance of their duties. Call the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas today at 847-392-5893 to schedule a consultation, or you can visit our website.