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This post was updated on March 31, 2022
Perhaps you think that when you finish writing your will, your estate planning work is done. Not so fast!
Here are five things to do after writing your will:
Of course, writing a will is the most essential step you will take. It is the document that directs how your assets and property will be distributed when you die and will reduce unnecessary stress for your loved ones when you are gone.
In addition to your will, however, you should also work on a financial power of attorney and a health care directive and living will. A financial power of attorney designates someone else to manage your finances if you are incapacitated. A health care directive allows you to specify your health care decisions in case you are unable to do so during a medical emergency.
You should make a list of all your accounts with contact information. This should include bank accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc. You should also make a list of the passwords and PINs to access online accounts. Remember that the list needs to be secure but accessible. A number of free services provide secure and accessible storage.
Make a list of your stocks, bonds, annuities, retirement assets, life insurance policies, and other investments. Add the contact information for your broker or agent.
Planning your funeral in advance will help alleviate disagreements between family members who might otherwise be left guessing what you would choose. Be sure to allocate funds to pay for your funeral, but be cautious about setting up a pre-paid plan. And make a list of close friends and organizations to which you belong that should be notified after you die.
Be transparent about your wishes and tell your family where to find the original copy of your will and your lists. Explain how your estate is to be distributed and make sure everyone understands what your wishes are. And keep in mind that estate planning is something you can handle on your own with the right tools like the ones that are available here on FindLaw.
There's no good way to avoid the stress on families when a member dies. By taking these five steps now, however, you can greatly reduce the strain.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.