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Organize, review your estate plan

August 3, 2008
Your Money’s Worth, By Steven J. Bailey, CFP, CLU, ChFC

Over the years you may have made a will, named your beneficiaries on qualified accounts, and set up the registration on your other accounts to match your goals, but have you sat down and compiled all this information into one master estate plan?

Many people complete all aspects of estate planning at some time during their life but in many instances they never look at the overall picture to make sure everything passes to the people or charities they want it to pass to. Another problem that too often arises is that you have prepared all of your financial and legal documents but have them in many different places that would take you or your executor, trustee, spouse, or other family member too long to find.

The following list consists of some of the financial and legal documents that you should review and check to make sure they are filled out correctly to achieve your goals after your death. Once you have reviewed these documents and they are filled out the way you want them, you should place them all together in a safe place where they can be found by you, your executor, trustee, spouse, or other family member.

4 Retirement Accounts: IRA's, 401(k), annuities, pension plans. You should check all of these accounts and make sure the named beneficiary is who you want it to be. You should also name a contingent beneficiary in case something happens to your primary beneficiary and you forget or are unable to add a new beneficiary.

4 Insurance: Individual life insurance, group life insurance, and long term care insurance. You should check all of your life insurance policies and make sure the named beneficiary is who you want it to be. You should also name a contingent beneficiary in case something happens to your primary beneficiary and you forget or are unable to add a new beneficiary.

4 Investments: Mutual funds, stock and bond certificates, and brokerage accounts. You should make sure these accounts are registered the correct way and make sure you keep a copy of a statement from each investment with all of your other important papers.

4 Personal property: Titles to cars, motorcycles, ATV's, boats, and deeds to your personal residence or rental property. You should make sure these titles and deeds are registered the proper way to accomplish your objectives.

4 Legal Papers: Will, living will, trust documents, property and health care power of attorney. Your attorney will have probably completed most of these documents. Make sure these documents are filled out correctly and that the beneficiaries are correct and up to date.

4 Banking: Checking accounts, savings account, CD's, loans, and credit cards. Make sure the checking, savings, and CD's are registered properly and list any special circumstances that may be connected with your loans (i.e. payoff at death).

If you spend the time and make sure all of the above papers are filled out correctly and you keep them in a safe place that you, your executor, trustee, spouse, or other family member know where they are located you should have the peace of mind in knowing that you have done everything you could do to make sure your estate is settled easier.

Steven J. Bailey CFP, CLU, ChFC is a registered representative of American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC, Advisory Services offered through American Portfolios Advisors, Inc., located at 992 E. State St. Salem and can be reached at 330-337-7720 or www.baileyfinancialplanning.com if you should have any further questions regarding this matter.

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