Estate Planning: After the documents are signed – the next steps
So you have signed your Will or Trust, your Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation. Are you all done? Not yet.
First, have you made and given copies of the Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation to your agents? This is an important step. They must sign the acceptances; further, they will need a copy of the document if they are to act on your behalf.
Next, have you checked beneficiary designations? These override the provisions in your Will. This can alter the distribution that you anticipated. Make certain that these are consistent with your overall plan. Also, make certain that there are not beneficiaries that were listed long ago that are inappropriate for today. This includes IRAs, 401Ks, life insurance and bank accounts.
Another very important step concerns the availability of information for your agents. If you were incapacitated, how would your agent under your Durable Power of Attorney know which bills to pay and when? Today, with on-line banking, we do not receive statements in the mail.
Make a spread sheet of all of your bills and how they are paid. List whether they are automatic debits from savings or checking, or automatically charged to one of your credit cards. Are there monthly bills that are not automatic? Are there bills that you must do on-line to pay? If so, the account number, user name and password are critical for your agent to access the account. These should be listed and left in a secure location.
Tell you agent where this information is kept so that in an emergency, it can be readily accessed.
If this information is on your computer, does your agent have the password to open your computer programs?
While this may seem time consuming, it is important to have all of this information in one location: account numbers, when bills are due, how they are paid, user name, passwords. In this way, your agent can assist you effectively if you are incapacitated.