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Making Sense Out of Dollars

Will It?

Joel Lerner, Columnist
Posted 2/26/21

Part 8 of 12

WHAT CAN I DO TO AVOID ANY MISUNDERSTANDING AMONGST MY FAMILY?

“Where there’s a will there are relatives.” This statement is so true but there are things that you …

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Making Sense Out of Dollars

Will It?

Posted

Part 8 of 12

WHAT CAN I DO TO AVOID ANY MISUNDERSTANDING AMONGST MY FAMILY?

“Where there’s a will there are relatives.” This statement is so true but there are things that you can do to avoid any family disagreements. When a person dies, all the family grieves but as time passes there are factors that must be attended to.

You have the power now to ease any burden that the family may face as to misunderstandings about certain areas that will have to be attended to. Three letters of instruction can be the answer relieving any guesswork on the part of your executor.

What Should These Letters of Explanation Cover?

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS: Wills are not usually read until days or weeks after death. That is much too late to be of help to the family who must make immediate decisions about the disposition of the body and memorial services.

Thus, you should list people that should be contacted upon your demise as well as any government agencies (Veteran Affairs, Social Security) and any professional individuals (stockbrokers, accountants, physicians). Also in this section should be any burial arrangements you have made (prepaid burial), any wishes and procedures you would like to have at your funeral and any cemetery information.

It is very important that your executor and possibly your children have this information as it is needed immediately upon your death. The other matters of your estate can wait.

FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS: In this letter, you should provide information concerning your employer, financial planner, stockbroker and insurance agents and policies. You must list any financial accounts (retirement, credit cards, and bank accounts) as well as any debts owed to you or you owe to others (auto loan, mortgage).

Also, list your password to your computer and any online accounts. Make certain you list your banks and individuals you deal with there and also your safe deposit box number and location of the key.

This second letter is extremely personal and should be shared only with your executor or attorney or leave it in a secure place and let them know where it is located when the time comes.

OTHER MATTERS: In this letter, you can cover areas that are too cumbersome to be in the actual will. These could include “who gets what” in personal property (jewelry, books, autos, clothes, furniture, pets). The last item, “pets” is something you may read about in the papers regarding a deceased’s last wish.

Let me state now that you should never leave anything to your pet. Pets cannot own property. Leave your pet to someone who has agreed to provide a good environment in their home and leave that person money to help with pet-related expenses.

Some states go as far as allowing you to set up trusts for animals, but would not be necessary if you have the confidence in the person you choose.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.

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