Stuck Inside on a Cold Winter’s Day? Contemplate Your Life. And Death.

Estate Planning /
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Or just stay in your jammies and watch Netflix all day.  Seriously, sometimes we are surprised with the gift of time.  Unexpected snow days provide a delightful break, but even illness affords the opportunity (and excuse) to slow down and rest.

Some folks feel lost finding themselves with a sudden gift of time.  It’s handy to have a few back-burner projects that you can tackle when you are suddenly gifted with an extra hour or two.  If, instead, you’re prone to blow unexpected free time with mindless activity (Oops! That was judgmental.), it would still be worthwhile to have a few projects in your back pocket to squeeze in between binge-watching Game of Thrones episodes.

Onerous financial tasks can fit this bill quite well.  Here are two to put on your back-pocket list.

Review your will.  If you have an existing will, make sure all parts are up to date.  Wills outline what you want to have happen with your assets at your death.  If you don’t have a will, you should consider having one drafted.  Life situations usually dictate the urgency for a will.

  • Do you have minor children? If so, you need a will YESTERDAY.  Get on it.  A will not only outlines what you want done with your money and possessions when you die, it also gives instructions on whom you wish to assume custody of your children if you pass away.  If you don’t have a will, the court system will assign a guardian for your children.  Do you have folks in your family whom you would object to raising your children?  Do yourself a huge favor and prioritize this task.  Don’t leave this decision up to strangers.
  • No children and no assets to speak of? If this is your life situation, having a will is less important.  All states have a formula they follow regarding where your assets go in the event of your death.  Again, if you don’t want your weird/annoying/crazy relatives to potentially inherit all your worldly wealth, be sure you DO have a will in place, so the court doesn’t allocate your estate the way it pleases.  If this scenario doesn’t concern you, then having a will can be a lower priority.
  • No children but some financial assets? You should have a will drafted as stated above. The more you own, the more you should make this a priority.

Create a Document Locator.  If you died today, who would step in to handle your financial affairs?  A spouse or partner? Another family member? A trusted friend?  Would your person of choice know where to find your various accounts and important paperwork?

Bravo if you already have something like a Document Locator!  If not, you might wonder what the heck I’m talking about.  A Document Locator is a list, either on paper or electronically stored, to guide your beloveds to your important papers.  In my house, I handle all the financial matters (a surprise, I’m sure!)  If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, my husband, Greg, would be hard-pressed to know where to find all our important papers.  You might be in the same boat.  Moreover, everyone has a unique filing system, so saying “Everything you need is right there in our files” might be meager guidance.

A Document Locator includes categories such as insurance policies, investment and bank accounts, deeds, titles, wills, and marriage certificates.  The sole purpose of this tool is to name where a person might find these documents.

It sounds simple, and perhaps sounds like overkill.  However, creating this list naturally affords you the opportunity to gather similar documents and file/store them together.  It’s like a ninja-filing project!  Don’t let that stop you.  Keep your eye on the prize: Your loved ones will thank you if you leave them a locator that gives them quick access to important papers they might need if you aren’t around.

Since there’s no magic formula regarding what financial documents should live where, the Document Locator simply explains where the documents live.  You can feel free to organize your documents however it suits you.

If you like the concept but dread the idea of creating such a tool, never fear!  Click here to access a free copy of ours.

Next time you find yourself with some unexpected time, take on one of these projects. You’ll sleep a bit easier knowing you have simplified a caring, helpful task for your loved ones.

Your turn!  Share below what financial tasks you have found make good snow day, free day activities.

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