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Estate planning should include a Personal Information File

Home Attorney Jefferson City Estate planning should include a Personal Information File
202110.21
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Estate planning should include a Personal Information File

Our law firm represents numerous clients annually in the creation of estate planning documents. These important documents are essential to directing the disposition of your assets when you pass away. But the documents by themselves are somewhat impersonal and lack certain confidential information that your loved ones may never discover or obtain on their own. As a result, it is important to include the creation of a Personal Information File while obtaining your estate planning documents.
What is a Personal Information File you ask? A Personal Information File is a compilation of important, confidential information that supplements your estate planning documents and encourages that your wishes are honored at the end of your life. It fills in the gaps left by the creation of your impersonal estate planning documents.
The creation of a Personal Information File should not be rushed. Time should be taken to ensure that every aspect of your life is addressed so your loved ones can better address your assets and wishes when you are gone. When compiling the file, imagine that you are suddenly lost at sea and your family does not have you around to tell them information that may only be at your disposal. In doing so, you may better understand what information the file must contain. At a minimum, your Personal Information File should contain the following items and events:
1. An inventory of your tangible assets. It is always helpful to inform those we leave behind about the extent of your estate. Inventorying all of your tangible assets is step one. Walk through the inside and outside of your home, farm, investment properties, businesses, etc. and make a list of all valuable tangible items. Examples include the real property itself, furniture, electronics, artwork, antiques, collectibles, vehicles, computers, lawn equipment, and power tools. Revisit this inventory list and update it as your life changes.
2. An inventory of your intangible assets. List your intangible assets. Such things include brokerage accounts, 401(k) plans, photo storage accounts, music storage accounts, trademarks, patents, options, accounts receivables, contracts yet to be performed, IRAs, bank accounts, passwords, user names, domain names, internet privileges, pin numbers, access codes, stock certificates, life insurance policies, and other policies such as long-term care, homeowners, auto, disability, and health insurance. You may also want to list contact information for the entities possessing or controlling these intangible assets. Accounts and policies that have designated beneficiaries will likely pass as non-probate transfers (directly to those people or entities upon your death), but you should confirm that your beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes with the respective customer service representatives or plan administrators for each account or asset. This step is especially important if you are divorced or your spouse has predeceased you.
3. A list of your creditors and debts. List credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, home equity loans, vendor accounts, and other obligations you may have. You may also want to list contact information for the creditors, your account numbers, and the location of signed agreements. Perhaps run a free credit report and include it as an attachment to your Personal Information File so as to include all creditors.
4. A list of your memberships. If you are a member of an organization such as the VFW, a country club, American Legion, Lions Club, Kiwanis, Jaycees, or others, make a list of them. In some instances, those organizations may provide life insurance or a reimbursement of membership fees as a benefit or contractual obligation. Include a list of any charitable organizations, churches, or other groups that receive your money or time. Those entities may depend upon your contributions and need to know of your passing. Some may even recognize your death with a memorial or other gift.
5. A Letter of Instruction. This intimate letter from you to your loved ones and friends provides instructions and personal wishes that your other estate planning documents exclude. Unlike a Will or Trust, this document has no legal authority so do not seek to give items to loved ones or others in the letter. A Letter of Instruction can provide specific information regarding your preferences in medical or funeral care, as well as details concerning why your Will or Trust reads as it does. An effective Letter of Instruction can lead your loved ones and agents through the days and weeks following your death using your plain and distinctive language.
6. A list of your family members. This step may sound unnecessary for those of you who have not been divorced, adopted children or parented children who are not regularly involved in your life; however, there are those of you who have experienced such events and not all of your loved ones or friends may know who your relatives are. As a result, include a list of all parents, siblings, spouses (past and present) and children (born or adopted) in your Personal Information File. Our firm regularly becomes involved in cases where surprise family members appear after a client passes away.
7. Copies of the Personal Information File. When your Personal Information File is complete, you should consider making copies. The original should accompany your estate planning documents. A copy should be given to your spouse (if you’re married) and another given to your agents or personal representatives when time is of the essence.
8. Review your Personal Information File regularly. It goes without saying that our lives are impacted by change regularly. To that end, so will your Personal Information File. Review your Personal Information File at least every three years and following any major life-changing events (marriage, bankruptcy, divorce, the birth of a child, adoption, etc.).
9. Input by an estate planning attorney and/or a financial planner. The information contained herein is a starting point and will help you supplement estate planning documents with a Personal Information File, but it is always a good idea to incorporate the help of a professional even when the document being created contains personal information and/or plans that relate to the disposition of your assets at death. Attorneys and financial planners have their own set of skills with regard to estate planning, and each must abide by professional standards of conduct and retain good records. Attorneys and financial planners will also be current on laws and future legislation that may impact your plans and bequests.
Conclusion:  Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” You may hear the words “estate planning” and think large homes, huge financial portfolios and wealthy individuals, but you are not required to be wealthy to have an estate. We all have an estate. An estate consists of all the property a person owns, including real estate, vehicles, investments, cash, tangible property, and intangible property. It should be a universal goal for everyone to transfer those assets to our loved ones without delay and without great expense. The creation of a Personal Information File will provide additional, confidential information to those loved ones and friends and hopefully assist in the swift and inexpensive disposition of assets after you pass away.
Todd Miller is a monthly contributor and regularly writes and speaks on various legal topics including estate planning, probate, and elder law. He formed the Law Office of Todd Miller, LLC, 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, Missouri in 2006. He has been awarded the Substantial Contributor Attorney Award by the Missouri Bar and ranked as one of the “Top Attorneys in Missouri” by The Legal Network. He is legal counsel for several area organizations and he is the current President of the Jefferson City Host Lions Club and a board member of the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Miller earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1999 and graduated with honors from Lincoln University in 1991. You may find him at www.toddmillerlaw.com (573) 634-2838 or on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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Estate planning should include a Personal Information File | Law Office of Todd Miller, LLC - Jefferson City, Missouri - (573) 634-2838
(573) 634-2838 - 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, MO 65109 Follow us on:

Estate planning should include a Personal Information File

Home Attorney Jefferson City Estate planning should include a Personal Information File
202110.21
0
0

Estate planning should include a Personal Information File

Our law firm represents numerous clients annually in the creation of estate planning documents. These important documents are essential to directing the disposition of your assets when you pass away. But the documents by themselves are somewhat impersonal and lack certain confidential information that your loved ones may never discover or obtain on their own. As a result, it is important to include the creation of a Personal Information File while obtaining your estate planning documents.
What is a Personal Information File you ask? A Personal Information File is a compilation of important, confidential information that supplements your estate planning documents and encourages that your wishes are honored at the end of your life. It fills in the gaps left by the creation of your impersonal estate planning documents.
The creation of a Personal Information File should not be rushed. Time should be taken to ensure that every aspect of your life is addressed so your loved ones can better address your assets and wishes when you are gone. When compiling the file, imagine that you are suddenly lost at sea and your family does not have you around to tell them information that may only be at your disposal. In doing so, you may better understand what information the file must contain. At a minimum, your Personal Information File should contain the following items and events:
1. An inventory of your tangible assets. It is always helpful to inform those we leave behind about the extent of your estate. Inventorying all of your tangible assets is step one. Walk through the inside and outside of your home, farm, investment properties, businesses, etc. and make a list of all valuable tangible items. Examples include the real property itself, furniture, electronics, artwork, antiques, collectibles, vehicles, computers, lawn equipment, and power tools. Revisit this inventory list and update it as your life changes.
2. An inventory of your intangible assets. List your intangible assets. Such things include brokerage accounts, 401(k) plans, photo storage accounts, music storage accounts, trademarks, patents, options, accounts receivables, contracts yet to be performed, IRAs, bank accounts, passwords, user names, domain names, internet privileges, pin numbers, access codes, stock certificates, life insurance policies, and other policies such as long-term care, homeowners, auto, disability, and health insurance. You may also want to list contact information for the entities possessing or controlling these intangible assets. Accounts and policies that have designated beneficiaries will likely pass as non-probate transfers (directly to those people or entities upon your death), but you should confirm that your beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes with the respective customer service representatives or plan administrators for each account or asset. This step is especially important if you are divorced or your spouse has predeceased you.
3. A list of your creditors and debts. List credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, home equity loans, vendor accounts, and other obligations you may have. You may also want to list contact information for the creditors, your account numbers, and the location of signed agreements. Perhaps run a free credit report and include it as an attachment to your Personal Information File so as to include all creditors.
4. A list of your memberships. If you are a member of an organization such as the VFW, a country club, American Legion, Lions Club, Kiwanis, Jaycees, or others, make a list of them. In some instances, those organizations may provide life insurance or a reimbursement of membership fees as a benefit or contractual obligation. Include a list of any charitable organizations, churches, or other groups that receive your money or time. Those entities may depend upon your contributions and need to know of your passing. Some may even recognize your death with a memorial or other gift.
5. A Letter of Instruction. This intimate letter from you to your loved ones and friends provides instructions and personal wishes that your other estate planning documents exclude. Unlike a Will or Trust, this document has no legal authority so do not seek to give items to loved ones or others in the letter. A Letter of Instruction can provide specific information regarding your preferences in medical or funeral care, as well as details concerning why your Will or Trust reads as it does. An effective Letter of Instruction can lead your loved ones and agents through the days and weeks following your death using your plain and distinctive language.
6. A list of your family members. This step may sound unnecessary for those of you who have not been divorced, adopted children or parented children who are not regularly involved in your life; however, there are those of you who have experienced such events and not all of your loved ones or friends may know who your relatives are. As a result, include a list of all parents, siblings, spouses (past and present) and children (born or adopted) in your Personal Information File. Our firm regularly becomes involved in cases where surprise family members appear after a client passes away.
7. Copies of the Personal Information File. When your Personal Information File is complete, you should consider making copies. The original should accompany your estate planning documents. A copy should be given to your spouse (if you’re married) and another given to your agents or personal representatives when time is of the essence.
8. Review your Personal Information File regularly. It goes without saying that our lives are impacted by change regularly. To that end, so will your Personal Information File. Review your Personal Information File at least every three years and following any major life-changing events (marriage, bankruptcy, divorce, the birth of a child, adoption, etc.).
9. Input by an estate planning attorney and/or a financial planner. The information contained herein is a starting point and will help you supplement estate planning documents with a Personal Information File, but it is always a good idea to incorporate the help of a professional even when the document being created contains personal information and/or plans that relate to the disposition of your assets at death. Attorneys and financial planners have their own set of skills with regard to estate planning, and each must abide by professional standards of conduct and retain good records. Attorneys and financial planners will also be current on laws and future legislation that may impact your plans and bequests.
Conclusion:  Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” You may hear the words “estate planning” and think large homes, huge financial portfolios and wealthy individuals, but you are not required to be wealthy to have an estate. We all have an estate. An estate consists of all the property a person owns, including real estate, vehicles, investments, cash, tangible property, and intangible property. It should be a universal goal for everyone to transfer those assets to our loved ones without delay and without great expense. The creation of a Personal Information File will provide additional, confidential information to those loved ones and friends and hopefully assist in the swift and inexpensive disposition of assets after you pass away.
Todd Miller is a monthly contributor and regularly writes and speaks on various legal topics including estate planning, probate, and elder law. He formed the Law Office of Todd Miller, LLC, 1305 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, Missouri in 2006. He has been awarded the Substantial Contributor Attorney Award by the Missouri Bar and ranked as one of the “Top Attorneys in Missouri” by The Legal Network. He is legal counsel for several area organizations and he is the current President of the Jefferson City Host Lions Club and a board member of the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Miller earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1999 and graduated with honors from Lincoln University in 1991. You may find him at www.toddmillerlaw.com (573) 634-2838 or on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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