According to Bankrate, 57% of Americans do not have a will, leaving their personal finance, guardianship of children, and many other end-of-life decisions in the hands of strangers (state judges.) The lynchpin of a solid estate plan is having a will, but Vanguard suggests you also need the following assembled to leave your loved ones in good shape following your death:
- Your assets. The value of all your personal and financial property. The type of assets you own, including brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, and life insurance policies. How those assets are owned: jointly with your spouse or another individual, in your name only, or in your trust’s name. The type and amount of any debts and the names of the individuals or institutions to which they are owed.
- Account numbers and locations.
- Important records. The bills you typically pay each month, your Social Security number, your marriage certificate, and benefit information.
Many people plan to “get to these later”, but oftentimes the tasks end up neglected and uncompleted.
Remember that the care of your finances and your family can exceed your life, but only if you take action while living to make sure these basics are covered.