Dailyfinance.com has an interesting article entitled 3 Important Estate Planning Questions which provides three questions that are important for all spouses to discuss when drafting an estate plan.
The first question, “How well does my spouse know our financial advisor?” is a good question to discuss how both spouses should know their “estate planning” team. Although the article limits itself to a financial advisor, the same could be said for a couple’s estate planning attorney and other important persons who may be in charge of finances for a couple.
The second question, “Does my spouse know where all our accounts are and how to access them?” is also a very important discussion to have. Particularly in the era of online accounts and e-mail notifications of statements, it is important to have a depository of accounts and login information. After one spouse’s death, there can be confusion as to where accounts are, the amounts in those accounts, and whether there are additional accounts. This may be particularly important if there are living expenses that still need to be paid for in addition to funeral and burial costs.
Finally, “Are our wills and beneficiary designations up to date?” This question has important estate planning repercussions. It is somewhat common to forget that estate planning can be more of a process and not a one time event. Grandchildren are born, executors die, property gets moved around, and accounts change. These issues can all be important. It is also important to not just think of your will as your estate plan, but also beneficiary designations on accounts. For example, a 401(k) account has a beneficiary designation that you must designate.
These important questions are vital to an estate plan being executed smoothly or whether there would be confusion after a death. A consultation with an estate planning attorney can be an important step in getting an estate plan completed or updating it.