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Putting Your Affairs In Order

Putting Your Affairs In Order

Q: How do I go about putting my financial affairs in order? It’s so overwhelming!


A: It’s very wise and helpful to create an advance plan for the distribution of your assets upon your death. This will create a protocol and ensure your preferences are carried out in the event of a medical catastrophe.


Fortunately, this is not as overwhelming as it seems. Here are seven steps you can take to make sure you’re fully prepared for any eventuality:


1. Take inventory of all your valuables and debts


First, list every physical item you own that’s worth $100 or more, like jewelry collections, vehicles and computers. Next, list all non-physical assets, including 401(k) plans, IRA assets and insurance policies. Include all open accounts with and other institutions. While completing this step, check that all beneficiaries listed on these accounts are the ones you want and that all other information is correct. Third, list all your open credit card and other debts.


2. Select an estate administrator


Choose someone to be responsible for executing your will. Choose carefully: Remember that emotions accompanying your death may impair loved ones’ decision-making ability.

3. Send a copy of your assets list to your estate administrator


Date and sign your completed lists. Make three copies of each list and give the original to your estate administrator. Give your spouse another copy to place in a safe-deposit box and keep a third copy in a safe place at home.


4. Assign TOD designations


Prevent your assets from being distributed through an expensive court process by assigning a TOD, or transfer-on-death beneficiary.


5. Create a will


This will serve as the guide for the distribution of your assets upon your death, preventing family feuds and expensive court proceedings. Also, assign power-of-attorney to a designated lawyer, choose a health-care surrogate and select guardians for your kids and pets.


Sign and date your will, have two witnesses sign it and obtain a notarization on the final draft. Make three copies: one for your estate administrator, another to be kept in a safe place at home and a third for your spouse.


6. Create a living will


In case of a medical catastrophe, a living will is important. This document stipulates who is to make medical decisions on your behalf and specifies whether you’d like to be subjected to resuscitation or other invasive procedures.


7. Create an estate-information packet


By creating one master document, or an estate-information packet containing all important information, you’ll save your loved ones hours of work. Your packet should include details like your Social Security number, the location of your living will and your designated estate administrator.


Now that your affairs are in order, you can enjoy life without the stress of, “What would happen if!”

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