Family Finance

by Crown Financial Ministries, crown.org

Putting critical papers in order

If anything happened to your health or life, would family/friends be able to handle your affairs on your behalf? It is prudent to organize your vital documents and advise at least one trusted person about where they are stored.

? LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Keep original legal documents in a safe place (lawyer, safe deposit box, Will Bank or with a trusted person) to prevent copies kept with trusted persons being tampered with or lost.

Your will: A formal letter instructing the distribution of your assets, money and property after your death. A will may also appoint an Executor and appoint guardianship of minor children on death of both spouses. Check the website of the Public Trustee of your state of residence for legal requirements (tip: you do not need to buy a will kit). Consider keeping your original will in a safe deposit box or in your attorney's fireproof vault. Or keep the original at home and hand copies to a trusted friend or financial adviser (combined with your lawyer's complete contact details).

Letters of instructions: stored with a copy of your will at home, this document expresses funeral wishes and distribution of personal items. It will also detail the location of financial/health records and statements (as listed under 'Other documents' below). Specify the location of safe deposit boxes, and write separate letters to your lawyer, spouse, will executor and trusted friend about where the keys are stored.

Enduring power of attorney: Information on drafting an enduring power of attorney (continuing after death) can be found on your state's Dept of Attorney General website.

Give a signed copy of the power of attorney to the person named to act on your behalf in financial matters if you are unable to do so. Also give a signed copy to your lawyer, a trusted family member or friend, and keep a copy in a safe place in your home—preferably accompanying your copy of the will.

Trusts: keep original paperwork with your lawyer, if you have one, and a copy in a safe place and at home, plus give copies to your co-trustees and successor trustee.

Other documents to prepare to keep with trusted friend or lawyer: health care proxy and living will (regarding medical treatment if you cannot write or speak), medical information (medication details, allergies, special medical conditions and illnesses/hospitalization in last five years).

Also inform family/trusted person of location of: tax records, lease/rent/mortgage/loan agreements, all insurance policies, bank accounts, prepaid funeral arrangements, and stock and superannuation statements.

? ASSET LIST

Make a detailed list of assets (including all relevant account numbers) and state where relevant documents are stored. Keep original list in a safe place at home or in safe deposit box.

This may include: Accounts of Retirement/bank/brokerage, deeds/titles/certificates, outstanding loans/debts, life insurance policies, social security number, a family tree, birth/death/marriage/passport records, personal assets including serial numbers.

? LIST OF PERSONAL ADVISORS

Designate the professionals you use or choose to use. For example: your attorney, accountant, insurance agent, financial planner, department at your workplace, family doctor, spiritual leader. Keep this list with original and all copies of your will. A trusted friend or family member should keep an additional copy.

If you have not compiled this information, it needs to be done as soon as possible, especially if you going overseas or facing surgery. Make sure you update the information at least yearly.

The above is intended only as information
– please seek your own legal advice.

More information on writing a will at www.usa.gov/topics/money/personal-finance/wills.shtml

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