Now Is the Time to Get Your Important Documents in Order
Happy New Year! As you are making your new year’s resolutions, now is also a great time to get your important documents in order. Here is a quick checklist of five things that you can do to get your important documents in order. I hope you find it helpful.
Five Things To Do to Get Your Important Documents in Order
- Update Your Estate Planning Documents. In general, I recommend updating your estate planning documents every 3 to 5 years. How long has it been since you reviewed yours? A quick review with your spouse is always a good first step. Then, if necessary, set up a brief meeting with your estate planning attorney to make sure that all of the documents are up to date. Finally, things do change over time. Occasionally, there are legal changes that affect your trust, powers of attorney, and other documents. In addition, things change in your life too, and the wills you did when the children were toddlers probably does not cover your current situation anymore.
- Update Your Business Documents. The same applies for your business documents. If you own your own business, then it is good to review your business formation documents every 3 to 5 years. If you have a corporation, are the Articles of Incorporation still accurate? Are the corporate minutes up to date? Do you need to revisit that Buy-Sell Agreement? Or, if you have an LLC, are the Articles of Organization still accurate? Do you need to update the Operating Agreement because of a new member or other changes?
- If You Have a Trust, Make Sure That Your Assets Are Titled in the Name of the Trust. This is important. As I tell my clients, if you do not title your assets in your revocable living trust properly, then the trust is not going to give you all of the benefits it is designed to give you. Check the Funding Instruction Letter in your estate planning binder for the exact language to use when retitling your assets. For traditional families with 401(k)’s and IRA’s, I generally recommend naming your spouse as the primary beneficiary, and your children equally as the contingent beneficiaries, but every family is different. For life insurance, I generally recommend naming your trust as the primary beneficiary.
- Organize Your Digital Passwords. This is important too. If something happened to you, would your loved ones know how to access your digital accounts? If not, it would be good to collect of the usernames and passwords into one location. A paper list is good, but not very secure, especially if the list gets into the wrong hands. As a result, I recommend looking into the Dashlane or similar programs for consolidating all of this important password information into one place.
- Organize Your Important Financial Documents. If you have not done so in a while, now is a great time to organize all of your important financial documents. Whether you do it electronically or in files or in a notebook, having all of your key financial information in one place will make things much easier for your family members if you ever become sick for a period of time. Finally, each of us has certain key advisors and other important people in our lives. How about compiling a list of these key people and their contact information for your family members as well? My wife refers to it as our “Love Binder”, and we are in the process of updating ours now.
Seek the Help of an Experienced Probate Attorney
As you can see, there are several things that the personal representative needs to do to administer an Arizona probate case. That is why I always recommend seeking the help of an experienced Arizona probate attorney in completing these tasks.
I wish you and your family all the very best in 2023! I hope that these ideas will help you to get these important documents organized over the next few weeks.
Need help? Please call me today – 602.277.7000
Our firm has helped hundreds of families just like yours handle a wide variety of estate planning, business planning, probate, trust, and elder law issues. When families or business owners are not getting along, we can also handle any disputes and litigation related to their businesses, wills, trusts, guardianships, or conservatorships. Please give me a call, so that I can help you work through these difficult issues with confidence.