Do you need an Estate Planning Memo? Or, more importantly, do you know what one is? If you’re like many Americans, you’ve likely not yet thought about such a term, and yet every one of us should be planning for our loved ones when we’re gone. Others believe if they have a will or trust, then an Estate Planning Memo is not necessary. Sadly, this is again not accurate.
In plain English, an Estate Planning Memo is a list of instructions that include directives for burial, funeral services and important family records. The information may contain the location of your will, how to access your financial accounts and more. Think of it as a footnote to your will or trust – it minimizes confusion, disagreement or other negative emotions in the midst of grief.
Otherwise emotionally stable people tend to be affected by profound moments like death, and this is why so many families who otherwise get along just fine can suddenly find themselves in a dispute over the affairs of a deceased loved one. Still others come from broken families and have concern over what will happen once they’re gone. Whatever the circumstance, it is not an ideal situation to leave loved ones to “figure it out” when you’re no longer around to make decisions.
At the time of a death, many families have to search through desk drawers, basement storage containers and even make multiple phone calls to get all of the appropriate affairs in order. With an Estate Planning Memo, it’s easier on everyone involved.
Now that you know the importance of having a memo, it’s essential the correct items are covered in it. Some questions that will need to be answered include:
– Where are your financial records and current accounts located?
– Who do you trust for your legal counsel?
– Who receives your personal belongings?
– What are the rules or guidelines for the trust funds of any children or grandchildren?
You can also include more personal information like how you wish your memorial service to be run, a final trip you’d love your family to take in your honor or anything else you can dream up. Make the memo more personal than your will, but keep it professional enough that it’s actually helpful.
A memo should also direct people to important documents like birth, death or marriage certificates, social security numbers and pre-paid burial plots. Your memo should also mandate the use of a particular lawyer or at the very least a trusted family member to execute the wishes found within it.
After your memo is complete, keep it sealed and addressed to your selected attorney or a close family member. Make sure these people know where it is located and ensure the spot is somewhere easy to find. In times of death and grief, no one wants to set out on a treasure hunt.
Erica Ronchetti is a freelance writer who has written articles profiling expert attorneys like Roman & Roman Law. This family-run firm is the ideal choice when you’re looking for a personal injury attorney in Tampa – someone to handle your final affairs. From creating your memo to executing your final wishes, Roman & Roman can help you from start to finish.