In addition to your estate-planning documents, your loved ones will need additional information if you were to die or become incapacitated. Enhancing your preparations by including other critical documents and details will save your loved ones time, money, and frustration in the future. Keep reading to learn more.
Recent Credit Report
You can obtain free copies of your most recent credit reports regularly through three credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. This is important because identity thieves often victimize recently deceased individuals and open accounts in their names. Until the deceased person’s credit files are updated, they are the perfect target. By regularly obtaining copies of your credit reports, your loved ones will be able to identify which accounts are legitimate and notice any suspicious activity after your death or incapacitation.
List of Debts and Recurring Bills
Compile a comprehensive list of recurring bills and debts, both digital and traditional, and attach cover page scans of insurance policies for quick reference. This will reduce the chances that an important bill gets overlooked or an account gets closed without proper preparations. It will also streamline the closing process of any account that is no longer necessary.
Additionally, be sure to remind any authorized users to refrain from using your credit cards after you die or become incapacitated. Otherwise, it could be constituted as fraud unless it is a joint account. Any outstanding credit card balance will be paid off by your estate.
Information About Money Owed
Provide your next of kin with written details for loans you have extended to any family or friends. Be sure to include signed loan documents and/or a description of agreed-upon repayment terms. These should be updated every time the borrower makes a payment.
You should also instruct your next of kin to periodically search for unclaimed funds under your name in state databases. It is common for companies to surrender any refunds due to an inactive account to the state. The easiest way to claim this money is through online databases like MissingMoney.com. Direct your loved ones to check regularly because it can take a significant amount of time for the database to update with your missing funds.
Access to Online Accounts
Share usernames and passwords for your important online accounts to at least one trusted individual. If you die or become incapacitated this person can handle the updating or closing of these accounts on your behalf. You can provide a list of your account credentials within your paperwork, sign up for a password management platform that includes an emergency-access functionality, or utilize digital literacy tools offered by some online providers.
Additionally, share your credentials for any frequent-flier or other membership account, if permitted. Some programs allow for miles/points transfers that your loved ones can utilize.
Pet Care Instructions
Outline plans for pet care, including designated caretakers, contact information, allocated funds, and essential pet details (diet restrictions, medical issues, medications, vaccination history, etc). These arrangements should be made as soon as possible, should you die or become incapacitated unexpectedly. Specify where to find the necessary items and documentation so that your pet is taken care of.
Provide information or instructions on where to locate your vital records. These records can include birth certificates, social security cards, medicare cards, military identification cards, and others.
Curate a list of all other valuables you have in your possession, such as collectibles, art, and jewelry. Include physical descriptions, valuations, and inheritance preferences. This is essential to ensure your loved ones know what they’re left with and how to proceed.
Pre-Paid Funeral Arrangements & Preferences
Discuss funeral plans and preferences with your loved ones, and ensure they’re aware of any prepaid arrangements and related details. Although this isn’t an easy topic to discuss, it’s important for your family to know what you have already planned or taken care of.
If you need more guidance from an experienced estate planning lawyer in Montgomery County, PA, and surrounding counties, trust Robert Slutsky. Call (610) 940-0650 or visit our website to request a consultation!