Additional Estate Planning Concerns
You have a will and other estate planning documents. You have stored these documents in a safe location, and your executor knows where they are and how to access them. If this is you, you are to be congratulated for taking care of your family by being prepared. But, there may be a little more work for you to do to make sure that your affairs are handled the way you want them to be.
There are many other additional pieces of information that your executor and family members will need when it comes time to execute your will. For example, they will need account numbers for all of your bank and investment accounts. They will require information about all of your debts and liabilities. Life insurance policies are also important to leave in a manner that can be found easily. Some insurance companies will not pay out if your beneficiary cannot produce the policy.
Wills rarely contain funeral instructions, since wills are often located after the funeral. I highly recommend that you store funeral and burial instructions with the will and other estate planning documents. This is particularly important if some of these services have been paid for in advance. I have seen the situation where pre-paid burial services were not utilized because the family members did not have proper documentation.
Also, the IRS can (and does) audit businesses after the owners have passed away. It is always a good idea to keep seven years of back tax records, and make them easily accessible to your family and/or executor.
For those who have had a record of military service, make sure to store your DD-214 with your other important estate planning documents. A copy of your DD-214 must be provided to the VA in order for widows or dependents to qualify for benefits. Getting a replacement document may not be possible, and if it does it frequently takes a lot of paperwork and time.
The American Bar Association offers a free Estate Planning Checklist that can help you make sure that you are prepared. Erik Dewey also offers a free book of worksheets that address estate planning concerns at www.erikdewey.com/bigbookmkIII.pdf. I would recommend using the worksheets provided that you feel are applicable to you.