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Providing guidance for an estate administrator gathering assets

Once a Philadelphia resident has completed his or her estate plan, a deep sense of satisfaction often follows. Knowing that the proper provisions have been made for those who will be left behind is very soothing to many people and checks off an important item off of one's lifelong "to-do" list. That said, there is another step that should be taken to assist one's designated estate administrator in gathering assets when the time comes.

Even the most carefully constructed estate plan is of little use if the proper people are unable to access those documents when the time comes to put the plan into action. There are a number of ways to use technology to meet this need, including digital storage, cloud-based storage and even scanning and saving files to a dedicated drive or other media. Digital storage might become the estate planning norm of the future, but for now, many people prefer to have a paper-based system, or at least a printed backup of documents stored digitally.

A paper system can be as simple or as complicated as needed. Some people simply place an envelope containing their documents in a file cabinet or safe deposit box. Others prefer a slightly more complex system and will dedicate a separate filing box to estate paperwork. It is a good idea to separate each type of document in its own tabbed file. This makes it easy for the estate administrator to access life insurance policies, trust documents and information on various assets without having to sort through a large stack of papers.

In the weeks and months that follow a death, the estate administrator is tasked with gathering assets and seeing to the proper disposition of those assets. This responsibility differs from one Philadelphia family to the next, as each will have a unique blend of asset types, as well as different debts. Having all of this information neatly stored in one place, however, will make it far easier for the administrator to handle these tasks and settle the estate in a relatively short period of time.

Source:, "Get it together: Organizing your estate now will ease the burden on loved ones later ", Suzanne Thompson, March 7, 2016

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