Being named as the executor of the estate of a deceased loved one comes with many challenges, including dealing with the probate system. But one of the most difficult (and least discussed) challenges is sorting through the plethora of paper and information that people collect over the course of a lifetime.
You can save your executor (and your family) time and money later by organizing your important documents and finances right now. If you’re not sure where to begin, or what information an executor would need to know, we’ve assembled a list of information and documents an executor might need quick and easy access to if anything were to happen to you:
- Instructions and letter to trustee: Contact information for your attorney and trustee(s), instructions on how to begin the process.
- Minor children: Information about your minor children, nearby guardians or relatives, medical and health insurance information.
- Personal Information: Birth and marriage certificates, passports, family, friends and contact people.
- Estate Planning Documents: Trust, wills, any amendments, personal property distribution memorandum.
- Employment/Business Information: Contact information for supervisors; client information if you are a small business owner.
- Real Estate and Tangible Property: Deed to your home, mortgage information, homeowners and fire insurance, vehicle records, artwork and antiques.
- Bank Accounts and Investments: Account numbers and locations, contact information.
- Monthly Expenses and Bills: A copy of one monthly statement for each.
- Information about recent Taxes
- Retirement Accounts/Government Benefits: Account numbers, beneficiary information.
- Life Insurance: Account numbers, beneficiary information, and copy of each policy
- Memorial and Burial/Cremation: Preferences, pre-paid arrangements, phone numbers.
- Memberships/Secured Accounts/Passwords
Once you are organized, keep your information in an accessible place and make your executor aware of the location. This simple act of organization will not only benefit you right now, it will save your family and your executor much time, money and frustration later on.