Whichever strategy you do want to use, be sure your bank has a copy of the POD or joint-account forms and the person or people named know that they are on them.
Having important papers like these all over the place can lead to chaos for survivors, says Barbara Bates Sedoric, a former estates and trusts paralegal in Rye, N.H. She saw this repeatedly when her firm sent her to the homes of widows and widowers after the death of their spouses.
How to help your loved ones
“I would spend days sifting through desk drawers and going through basements and attics searching for important documents and information,” says Sedoric, who created The LastingMatters Organizer ($20 as a downloadable ebook; $29 for the paperback version) which lets you convey your wishes and keep track of your documents.
You’ll also need to remember to update your documents, says Kimberly Foss, president and founder of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif.
“Everyone is different, however on average, every three to five years is recommended,” she says. “A little attention to these details now can save immeasurable stress and heartache in the future.”
Ronni Gordon is a South Hadley, Mass.-based freelance writer and editor and a former newspaper reporter. She has written for the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the alumni quarterlies of Smith and Vassar and elsewhere.
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