Here at the Lone Star Advocate, we recently laid out the four estate planning documents everyone needs to have. But if you’ve got your will or trust, powers of attorney and living will settled, consider taking these four extra steps to improve your estate planning. These documents and actions can make the process more smooth for your family and executor.
1. A letter to your child’s guardian.
Estate planning lawyers such as Texas Legal’s Melissa Stone Myers encourage clients to write a letter to the person they’ve chosen as a guardian for their children if they die.
“In it, you can write how you want your children to be raised, what kind of school you want them to go to, anything that’s important to you,” says Myers. “It’s optional, but it’s something that makes people feel more comfortable, that they are able to convey their thoughts and wishes to their loved ones.”
2. Burial Instructions.
Formally called an Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains, this document says what you want done with your body when you die and who is in charge of carrying out your wishes.
3. Updating Your Beneficiaries.
Myers encourages her clients to take a look at any life insurance or retirement policies they have and update their beneficiaries. A life insurance policy is a contract, so whoever is listed as the beneficiary will receive the money, even if circumstances have changed, like in a divorce.
Make sure that whoever you have listed is who you want to receive the money directly. If your children are under 18 and are listed as beneficiaries, you may want someone other than their personal guardian to receive the money, so make sure you specify that. Often families have another child and fail to update their policy, leaving only some of their children as beneficiaries.
4. Personal Information Organizer.
A personal information organizer is a document that gives your family all the information they would need if something happened to you – location of documents, account numbers, important people, etc. If you don’t have one of these already, Texas Legal offers a free personal information organizer download that you can print out and fill out for your family.
One key to doing your estate planning correctly is finding the right lawyer. A legal plan like Texas Legal can help you get your estate planning done and done right, for much less than you would pay a lawyer directly. For more tips on how to get the most from your estate planning, take a look at all the Lone Star Advocate’s helpful and informative estate planning articles.