Estate Planning. Not Easy, But Essential.

Estate Planning. Not Easy, But Essential.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Over the past five years, I have been writing an annual article to remind our newsletter readers about estate planning. I recently had a customer and good friend contact me regarding this topic. He decided it was time to get his financial situation in order because, like all of us, he isn’t getting any younger! Within a couple of months, he was able to meet with an attorney regarding the preparation of his Will, Power of Attorney for Business and Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

As I was going through this process with my customer, it reminded me of some other things that we should take into consideration when thinking about estate planning. 

  • How do you have your checking, savings, investments and stock accounts titled? Do you have beneficiaries named on these accounts?
  • Do you have beneficiaries named on your retirement and life insurance accounts?
  • How is your home or land titled?
  • Do you have a safe deposit box to keep your important documents in? Who are the signers/owners on your safe deposit box?
  • What are your wishes for your funeral? Where do you want to be buried? 

These aren’t always easy topics to think about or discuss, but they are important. Having a plan in place makes things easier on your loved ones once you have passed. It also ensures that your assets are passed on to who you want them to go to.

Through this process, my customer learned that it is important to periodically review your financial plan to make sure nothing has changed that would affect your estate strategy. You may find out the beneficiaries you have listed on your accounts are no longer living. When you meet with your attorney to prepare a Will, he or she can help you decide how your assets should be titled and if and who you should name as beneficiaries. Having beneficiaries named on your financial accounts will trump what you have within your Will. 

I also think it is a good practice to make a list of the following for your personal representative of your estate:

  • Insurance agent contact information, policies and policy numbers for life insurance policies
  • Financial advisor contact information, account numbers for investment, stock and retirement accounts 
  • Listing of which banks you have accounts with and account numbers
  • Any other information that you think is pertinent 

Don’t wait until it is too late and make it difficult for your family and loved ones. Doing something now will save time and heartache in the future for many. 

- Jim Scott, President - Broken Bow