When the importance of estate planning is discussed, the focus is usually on choosing goals and deciding which tools and strategies to use to achieve those goals. People rarely discuss what you should do with your estate plan once it is complete. The Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft stress the importance of the steps you take with your estate plan after it is finished.
What Is Included in a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
The estate plan you create will be as unique as you are. While there are a number of common estate planning goals, the goals and objectives you choose to include in your plan will likely differ from those included in the estate plan of your friends and neighbors. Consequently, the documents and tools that you use to help achieve your estate planning goals may also not be the same as those found in another plan. Nonetheless, there are some common tools and strategies that are likely to be included in your estate plan, such as:
- Last Will and Testament
- Trust agreement
- Advance directive
- Life insurance policy
- Letter of Instruction
- Power of attorney
- Financial records
- Deeds, titles, and other ownership documents
- Pre-planned funeral contract
- List of assets and accounts
Once your plan is complete, you do not want to make any of the common mistakes people make with that plan. The first common mistake is to do nothing. People make this mistake because they labor under the mistaken belief that once the documents are executed and organized, the estate planning process is over. Another common mistake is to take your estate planning documents and put them in a safety deposit box. It can be a good idea to put some estate planning documents in your safety deposit box, but not all of them. Specifically, you do not want to put your original Last Will and Testament in your safety deposit box because, after your death, the only person who will be allowed access to the box is the Executor of your estate. The problem is that the only way for the individual you appointed to be your Executor to prove that he/she is the Executor is with the original Will – the Will that is in the safety deposit box. It becomes a circular dilemma without a simple solution.
What Should You Do with Your Estate Planning Tools and Documents?
The steps you take after your estate plan is complete should always be discussed with your estate planning attorney given that he/she knows you and your plan well; however, there are some common suggestions you may wish to consider. At the top of that list is giving your Executor an original copy of your Last Will and Testament along with copies (or originals) of all other important documents. Likewise, if you have included a trust in your plan, your designated Trustee should have an original copy of the trust agreement. Whether you provide beneficiaries of your Will/trust with copies is up to you. If you executed advance directives, give your designated Agent a copy and provide close loved ones with a copy of your state’s version of a living Will. Some states also allow you to register advance directives with the state. Agents appointed in a power of attorney should also be given an original copy of the POA agreement. Make a couple of copies of ancillary paperwork, such as financial statements, asset lists, and ownership documents and give a set of copies to a trusted family member or friend, keep one in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe at home, and the last set of copies to your Executor. Finally, your estate planning attorney should retain copies of all documents included in your estate plan and should also keep an original copy of your Last Will and Testament and any trust agreements.
Contact Indianapolis Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about your estate plan, contact the experienced Indianapolis estate planning attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.