Did you know that keeping secrets can hurt you when it comes to estate planning? Some things are best kept under wraps until the appropriate time, like the surprise birthday party you’re planning for your wife or the Christmas gifts in your closet. However, if you have assets that your family does not know about, they must be made aware of them. If you pass away and you own assets that no one knows about, your loved ones may be deprived of them. If you have heard of unclaimed property, remember that much unclaimed property is unclaimed because the people who owned it died, and their heirs are unaware that it exists.
Sometimes, people are deliberately secretive about their finances and assets. Other people are merely forgetful and neglect to mention the life insurance they purchased or the account they opened at the bank. Some people are generally disorganized and do not remember all of the assets that they have, let alone the location of each of them. All three of these scenarios can leave heirs in the dark when it comes time to settle a deceased loved one’s estate.
Fortunately, estate planning can serve as an antidote to the dilemma of missing or hidden assets if you choose to approach it with the goal of being thorough and including every asset you own in your estate plan. Part of making an effective estate plan is making an inventory of all of your assets. When you make that inventory, it is crucial that you be honest and thorough and list every single asset you own. In addition to listing the assets, be sure to include information about where each asset is located as well as any account numbers, passwords, or other information your heirs will need to access the assets. The information you include in your estate planning documents will help your loved ones locate your assets after you pass away, so that they may dispose of them according to the instructions in your estate plan.
In addition to listing all your assets in your estate plan, make sure your family knows where all the assets are located. Be sure to let them know where you have stored a copy of your estate plan, and share with them the basics of what is in the plan. If you have created powers of attorney or health care directives, the people you have listed as your agents in those documents must know where to find them so that they can locate them quickly if there is a need.
A comprehensive estate plan helps ensure that your assets will benefit your loved ones after you pass away instead of being lost and forgotten. If you would like to get started on making an estate plan or if it’s time to revise your existing plan, Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber is here to serve you. Please call our office at 316-265-7802, or contact us online to arrange a consultation to discuss your Kansas estate planning questions.