Back in the early 1990's, Gretchen and I took a week-long personal/professional development course created by Stephen Covey called "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." One of the seven habits is to "begin with the end in mind." In other words, to paraphrase the White Rabbit's sage advice in "Alice in Wonderland," if you do not have a clear notion of where it is you are going, then any path will do. So it is with one's personal, financial and estate planning. The devil truly is in the details.
I prepared my first estate plan in January of 1985. In the years since, one fact has become painfully clear: clients die. And, when clients die, so does their knowledge regarding what they owned, what they owed and where they kept their financial records and legal documents. Sucked Into this information vacuum are the grieving family members and the decedent's professional advisors turned "treasure hunters" by necessity (usually on the hourly clock). Much of this unnecessary stress and expense can be avoided by completing two practical tools we provide each of our clients.
The first tool we provide is an "Estate Organizer Kit" (as part
of their "Estate Planning Portfolio") which contains step-by-step
"Instructions for Fiduciaries" (i.e., estate administration instructions to
guide the decedent's personal representatives and trustees); a "Document
Finder" (i.e., an easy-to-complete grid system to identify the location of original legal, financial and personal documents, as well as copies); "The Key Contacts"
(i.e., forms to identify the names and contact information for key advisors,
relatives and close friends); and an "Asset Workbook" (i.e., to identify all
of the client's assets by asset class with all of the appropriate detail to assist fiduciaries).
The second tool we provide is an eight-page form
titled "My Last Wishes." If clients will take about an hour to
complete this form, then they will have provided all of the information
necessary for their obituary, memorial/funeral service and disposition of their
body. We have found that such personal "prearrangement" of their
final "party" is one of the nicest gifts clients can leave for their
you would like to download our complimentary “Estate Organizer Kit” and/or “My
Last Wishes” form, visit our website: www.kekpa.com.
Wisdom is timeless because it is right at any time. So it is with getting your personal, financial and legal affairs in order. Taking a little time now, to begin with the end in mind, can save your loved ones unnecessary stress and expense later on. By the way, feel free to recommend these practical (and complimentary) "tools" to your family members, friends and colleagues.