This is the second of a two-part blog series outlining some simple steps to get started on your estate planning. You can find the first part here.
Picking up from our last blog post, here are the next set of steps to help you approach and simplify your estate planning:
4. Consider life insurance. A life insurance policy isn't just about covering your salary after you die, it's about helping your family pay for your funeral costs, car loan, credit card debt, mortgage costs, and other living expenses that will continue after you die.
You may have valid reasons for putting off the life insurance purchase decision, but you may be surprised how affordable life insurance can be.
When considering life insurance, educate yourself about life insurance basics and determine how much life insurance you will need.
Speak to an advisor for further information and assistance, and remember – having some life insurance is definitely better than nothing. Start with what you can afford and add-on later if needed.
5. Set up a master file of key documents. Keep your important documents and information, such as insurance policies, your will, bonds, investment records, bank account statements, credit card accounts, your birth certificate, marriage certificate, social insurance number, real estate documents, powers of attorney, advanced care planning directive, and key contact details such as for your lawyer and financial advisor, in a safe place.
Some individuals suggest creating a “What To Do If I Die” spreadsheet where you put together all of your important personal and financial information in one place where your loved ones can access it in the event that you’re not around to help them.
Don’t forget about your digital files and providing a list of accounts, usernames, and passwords. Many password management programs exist, such as KeePass, that allow you to save all of your account usernames and passwords, and password protect them under one master key for security purposes.
Be sure to share where to find all of this information with a trusted family member or friend so they avoid playing a dreadful game of “hide and seek”.
6. Outline your funeral wishes. This step is optional, but if you have specific wishes then it's a good idea to put them in writing, and let your executor know what they are. Think about what type of service you would like, if any, whether you want burial or cremation and if pre-paying for any of these arrangements is something you want to do.
7. Continue to review your plan over time. Your estate plan should never be a "once and done” kind of thing. As your life evolves, so should your estate plan. Review your will, powers of attorney and insurance needs periodically to account for significant life events, such as divorce, birth, death or a change in your economic situation.
8. Stay focused. Estate planning is a process and it can seem overwhelming. Focus on why you are doing this: you love your family and you want to do what is best for them. Leaving this world organized is one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones, and once your estate plan is in place, you will have the best benefit of all - peace of mind.
3The Star Business, July 2014
4Canadian Funerals, July 2013