Having one’s affairs in order can benefit loved ones at the time of his or her death. While an estate plan can ease the process, this does not mean that it is an easy one to move forward with. This is especially true for the adult children of a parent that just passed. The process can be overwhelming and emotional; however, it is one that must be proceeded with.
Unpacking an estate plan
Even when one’s parents took the time to carefully put together an estate plan that clearly defines their wishes, it can be a difficult and daunting task to administer the estate plan. It is often hard to know where to start and what should be done first. The best way to begin the unpacking process is to focus on the issues that are considered the most important or urgent. This is typically funeral arrangements and gaining access to short-term money to pay for the costs associated with the funeral.
Creating a financial checklist
During the time of grief, it can be difficult to remember everything or even recall why a certain decision was made. Thus, it is important to take notes on all actions taken and choices made. To begin, locate the will. If one’s parents do not have a will, then an executor must be appointed through the court. Once the will status is addressed, obtaining a death certificate is the likely next step to take. It is vital to understand who is in charge of the process. Typically, an executor is named by the parent through his or her estate plan, but if this is not the case, then one needs to be appointed.
The next step would be to address funeral costs, gather all necessary documents, including his or her birth, marriage and death certificate, Social Security cars, tax returns and other vital documents and to consult with professional legal and financial advisors to uncover all assets and accounts. Finally, one should gain access to online accounts, contact necessary government agencies and handle the life insurance policy.
How well an estate plan is drafted and updated will dictate how easy it will be on one’s heir to administer the estate plan after his or her passing. Thus, it is important for one to consider all the components of an estate plan and what can be done to ensure one’s wishes are met.