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Estate planning goes beyond wills and trusts

Estate planning often involves thinking ahead and making many decisions. Though, after deciding how one wants one's estate to be managed and where various assets should go, there is still another step to take. Even if one's wills, trusts, and accounts are all in order, one's family members may have difficulty managing one's estate if they cannot find this important information.

Making information about how to access one's accounts, attorneys, and estate planning papers accessible is critical. One expert suggests compiling copies of important documents in one place so it is easy for family members to find this information after one's death.

Some may wonder what types of information should be handed on to family members after creating an estate plan. Contact information for one's attorney, accountant, stockbroker, or doctors could be very helpful when managing one's estate.

Information regarding how to access one's will and trusts could also be very valuable for one's family members. One may prefer to direct family members to one's attorney to access detailed information regarding these topics.

Even though this type of information may not be included in one's formal estate plan, making sure one's family members can access one's bank accounts, bills, computer passwords, account passwords, and other records may be very important. If a family member knows all of the information about one's bank account, but is missing a key password or PIN code, he or she may have difficulty closing accounts and managing other financial matters.

Compiling this information may take a while and may be stressful, but after taking the time to establish a clear estate plan, it would be terrible for one's family members to not know how to access the estate plan.

Source: Market Watch, "To help your heirs, write a 'Death Book'," Henry Hebeler, Feb. 26, 2013

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