Making preparations for what will happen to your family after your passing is important and often overlooked. So if you’ve written a will, that’s a great first step! Unfortunately, a will doesn’t tell your family where your assets are, or how to get them.
In this blog, we’ll lay out a few of the next steps you need to take once your will is finished, and how hiring an experienced estate planning attorney can make the process even easier.
Where will you keep your will?
Now that you’ve gotten your will together, it’s one of your most important documents. So where do you keep it until the time comes that your loved ones will need it? You have a few options:
- Safe deposit box: Many people use a safe deposit box in a bank, post office, etc., to keep important documents. (*See note below.)
- Another safe: If you choose to keep your will in a different safe – either in your house or another safe place – make sure that this safe is both fire- and water-proof. You don’t want an accident to do away with your documented wishes for the future. (*See note below.)
- With someone you trust: You could keep your will with a friend or third party, but the wisest choice here is to give it to your estate planning attorney until the time of your death.
Who will you tell about your will?
Another important thing to keep in mind is telling people about your will. Some people assume that their will should be some kind of secret, kept hidden under their bed or wrapped in plastic somewhere in the house.
But if you don’t tell anyone about your will or where to find it, how can your beneficiaries benefit from it? Plus, your executor – who you appointed to distribute your assets after your death – has to be able to find it to follow through with your wishes.
So not only should you tell certain people that you trust (i.e., your beneficiaries and executor) that you made the will, but you should also tell them where you stored it. You can even provide executors with a photocopy of your will when you first draw it up.
*NOTE: If you choose to store your will in a safe deposit box, you’ll have to make sure someone has the information needed to access it after your death. Some states even require a court order to open the box if they don’t have the necessary information. And if you choose to store it in another safe, make sure someone else has the combination to the safe, too.
Other things to organize
Once you’ve written a will, kept it somewhere safe, and told the appropriate parties where to find it, you’re still not quite finished. There is all kinds of other information that you need to make sure your beneficiaries have access to once you’ve passed, including:
- Account information: A list of credit card accounts, bank accounts, student loans, and mortgages.
- Passwords: A list of passwords for online accounts, email, and PINs.
- Investments: A list of your stocks, bonds, annuities, retirement assets, life insurance policies, with the contact information of your broker/agent.
- Instructions for your funeral: A list of what you’d like for your funeral and what happens to your body will avoid disagreements among family members once you’ve died. You can even allocate funds for it all, but don’t bother pre-paying for anything. You can also make a list of people who should be notified upon your death (with their contact information).
When to review your will
If you make your will in your 50s but live until you’re 85, you’re facing almost three decades of changes that didn’t make it into your will.
That’s why you should check your will roughly every 3 years to make sure everything is up-to-date.
You should also make appropriate changes to your will any time something monumental occurs in your life, like the birth of another child/grandchild, the death of a beneficiary in your will, new property or assets, etc.
Hire Candice O’Neil to walk you through this process
All of these steps can be made much simpler with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Candice O’Neil has 14 years of experience helping people and their families prepare for the inevitable. She can help make sure that you understand all the terminology, steps, and can objectively advise you throughout the process. Contact Candice O’Neil today so that our legal team can ensure all your needs and wishes are met.