Caring for others may come naturally to you. You may have cared for your children as they’ve grown up, or helped your parents as they’ve gotten older. We spend countless portions of our lives investing in those we love. But when it comes to hard conversations, sometimes that isn’t so easy. End of life planning is a necessary step for all of us and, though it can be emotional, it is a way that we can continue to care for those we love, even after we are gone. 

I had a boss one time that always believed in the “hit by the bus” folder. If anything happened to her, that binder was the blueprint for everything needed for the company to run smoothly. In family life, I prefer the term “Legacy Binder,” but it is equally critical to the running of the family and especially helpful for those in charge of finalizing our estates. Some items to consider including in a Legacy Binder would be:

  • All financial accounts – their location and login details (banks, investments, credit cards, etc.)
  • Net worth statement – clearly listing all assets and liabilities
  • Social Media Accounts – sites used and passwords
  • Important Documents List and their locations
    • Wills, advance directives for health care, power of attorney, car titles, insurance policies, tax filings, etc.
  • The household budget and list of recurring expenses (dates and amounts)  
  • Final arrangement wishes
  • Any notes or messages you would like to leave (this will mean more to your loved ones than all the items above!)

These can be challenging topics to address, and sometimes making an appointment with your financial advisor can really help in starting and guiding the process. Taking the time to adequately prepare your estate can not only save your heirs in taxes and legal fees, but can also provide them with the comfort of knowing your wishes have been carried out and that you had their best interest at heart.

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