It’s that time of year again–where we scrounge up paperwork and receipts, putting everything together in order to file taxes. It might not be fun, but it’s necessary and could even put you in a good position to start your estate planning process.
In a Forbes article titled, “How to Take Advantage of Tax Season to Tackle Estate Planning,” financial experts stated that, “without estate planning documents, an estate loses anywhere from 3% to 8% of its value to legal costs and fees.” This loss can be detrimental for families and more costly than paying an attorney to get documents in place ahead of time.
The main reason folks don’t have an estate plan in place is simply because they haven’t gotten around to it (caring.com). But it’s not an option to “get around” to your taxes. So while you have everything together, start the search for estate planning attorneys in your area.
The National Institute on Aging has an excellent guide to “Getting Your Affairs in Order” which includes a helpful list of financial documents you will need when completing your estate plan:
- Source of income and assets (pension from your employer, IRAs, 401(k)s, interest, etc.)
- Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid information
- Insurance information (life, health, long-term care, home, car) with policy numbers and agents’ names and phone numbers
- Names of your banks and account numbers (checking, savings, credit union)
- Investment income (stocks, bonds, property) and stockbrokers’ names and phone numbers
- Copy of most recent income tax return
- Location of most up-to-date will with an original signature
- Liabilities, including property tax–what is owed, to whom, and when payments are due
- Mortgages and debts–how and when they are paid
- Location of original deed of trust for home
- Car title and registration
- Credit and debit card names and numbers
- Location of safe deposit box and key
I’ve started organizing my documents, but now what do I do?
Filing taxes and finding documents are both hefty tasks in their own right, but as you conduct your search, you might come across other important papers that will be necessary in the estate planning process. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, and even old wills should be set aside and stored in a safe place for future estate planning, or just life in general.
First, we recommend calling an Estate Planning Attorney so that you know you’re gathering all the items that they’ll need from you. Then, tell someone who you know and trust about the locations of the documents, preferably someone you’ll name as executor or beneficiary in your Estate Plan–your documents won’t be helpful if no one can find them.
Check two things off at once by preparing for your estate plan while doing your taxes!
In the mood to organize? Download our free, printable e-book to help you keep important information together for your loved ones who might need it someday. Download Ebook- what you didn't know you needed to know.