Document your estate plan for family members or heirs

For families in Texas — or anywhere in the country — things like funeral arrangements, wills or asset distribution upon a loved one’s death aren’t popular dinner-table topics. While such things can be difficult to talk about, you don’t have to leave family members or heirs in the dark. Taking time to document an estate plan now can lessen frustrations down the road.

Consider creating a file with all estate-related documents enclosed to make it easier on loved ones. Store the file at home, in a safe-deposit box, with an attorney or other estate professional or as a virtual copy on the computer or cloud.

Perhaps obviously, one of the first documents to include in your file is a will. Copies of other legal documents, such as trusts, power of attorney or health-related forms should also be included. Some of these documents would be used by family members prior to your death should you be unable to make financial or health decisions on your own.

In addition to specific estate documents, consider including copies of life insurance plans in the file. You might also provide a list of all financial accounts along with some instruction on how the executor of your estate would access those accounts. It’s probably a good idea not to keep a list of passwords in the same file, as that could pose a security risk.

Finally, include any other documents relevant to survivor benefits. This might include pension plans, investment accounts or any account that pays a beneficiary upon your death. Creating a comprehensive record of your assets, along with your wishes for those assets, helps alleviate probate issues for loved ones in the future.

Source: Time, “Want Less Stress? Get Your Estate Plan In Order” Beth Pinsker, Jul. 15, 2014