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You know, sooner or later, your day will come, and your heirs will be left trying to make sure that your final wishes are followed. As a result, you’ve had a will made and taken other preparations to make things easier.

Now, what do you do with everything? What all should be put together so that your heirs don’t have to sift through the accumulated paperwork of your lifetime? Here’s some basic advice to follow:

1. First, find a desk drawer, cabinet or other secure location. Ideally, you want it to be someplace obvious that people would look in the event of your death for the important paperwork.

2. Clue a few trusted people in where you decide to locate the paperwork you store. Your adult children, a favorite niece or nephew, a good friend and certainly the person you ultimately expect to handle your estate are good choices.

3. Write a cover letter. You can express a few thoughts and let people know the purpose of the drawer or file.

4. Include the remaining following documents together:

  • Your will, including any separate letter to your executor.
  • Your funeral instructions, including any prepaid plans you have and instructions on burial, cremation or body donation.
  • Your insurance policies, including contact information for your insurance agent.
  • A list of your financial accounts, including what names are on the account, the account numbers and the bank names.
  • Your most recent tax returns. The last three years should be sufficient to answer any questions your heirs may have.
  • Your monthly budget, if you are leaving behind a household that needs to function after you are gone. Include who you pay and what you pay each month so that your heirs (especially if you have a spouse that isn’t used to handling the bills) can pick things up and keep them running.
  • Passwords to all your online or electronic accounts, including your computer, phone, email and social media accounts.
  • Legacy letters, which are essentially written documents to your loved ones with your final wishes or thoughts for them.

Once these things are done, you can rest easy — your loved ones will be well-prepared if you should die suddenly. For more estate planning questions, please explore our site or contact us directly for assistance.