Getting Your Estate in Order
One of the best gifts you can leave your survivors is an organized
estate. Doing so will ensure that your wishes will be carried out
and also help your loved ones. Discuss all of this with your family
and your will's executor. Definitely consult with your legal, financial
and tax advisers.
Make sure all of your estate documents and insurance
policies are up to date (beneficiaries, etc.), and that your accounts
and insurance policies still conform to your estate planning desires.
Review retirement plan
Calculate your net worth.
Work with your financial advisor to determine what you can do to
minimize or eliminate the impact of federal and state estate taxes.
Establish a trust if
Consider funeral preplanning.
Organize your financial
records including computer passwords, where diskettes are stored,
location of tax records, loan payments (credit cards, mortgages,
consumer loans, auto and personal loans).
Keep your list of financial
accounts up to date (account numbers, investments, beneficiaries,
List the location of
valuable documents (deeds, car titles, military records, birth &
List your personal data.
(s.s. number, driver's license number, VA claim number, date of
birth, names and contact information of family members.)
Arrange for access to
your safe-deposit box.
List other income sources
and government benefits (pensions, Social Security, military benefits,
List all organizations
in which you have membership that may provide benefits to your survivors.
Provide a family member
with the location of confidential or valuable items, the location
of spare keys, passwords, etc.
Write your personal legacy
Your Personal Legacy Statement
A personal legacy statement is not legally binding, but it provides
you the opportunity to tell your own personal story to your children
(typically the beneficiaries of your estate). In it you can explain
the dreams and goals for your family's future; the causes and concerns
that you're passionate about. It's a way for your family to understand
you. Some people might use it to explain their family history, others
use it as an ethical will - it explains your personal story, your dreams,
goals, successes and failures. Maybe it touches on "if I had it to do
all over again, would I have made the same choices?" You might choose
to include hopes and dreams for future generations; not to dictate,
but rather to offer the moral and ethical choices you hope your heirs
A personal legacy statement can be written (or videotaped) as a personal
statement to each child about themselves, their history and how special
and unique each child is. It can offer the possibility to heal old wounds
and resolve old conflicts. In all these examples, a common thread is
that it's a very personal statement about deeply meaningful issues.
Sometimes the work of putting together a financial plan is the impetus
for wanting to create it. And it's something your heirs would cherish
beyond the mere financial bequeaths.
Are you saving enough for retirement? If not, do you know what to
do to reach your goal? Are you taking on more investment risk than necessary?
Is your greatest financial asset (not your home) properly insured? Are
you satisfied with the value, service and attention that you're receiving
from your advisor? If not, call for a complimentary review of your financial