Losing a loved one is difficult on a variety of levels. While there are few things people can do to ease the emotional turmoil, there are several steps people can take to make the estate management tasks that follow their passing easier on the loved ones they leave behind. Here are five specific ways anyone can make the management and dividing of their assets simpler for their heirs.
Anyone Can Do These 5 Things to Make Estate Management Tasks Easier
1. List All Formal Memberships
Compiling a list of memberships might not seem like an estate management task, but it could help your heirs find a few thousand dollars to help with funeral costs or other expenses. Some organizations offer complimentary accidental life insurance benefits to members, and those that do often automatically enroll members in these benefit plans. Both local organizations and national organizations should be included in the list.
Usually these life insurance policies are small, but even a thousand dollars can help alleviate some of the financial burden that comes with properly caring for a lost loved one. If your heirs don’t need the money, they can always donate it to one of the organizations that you care deeply about.
2. Create an Asset and Debt Balance Sheet
Another list everyone should have is a balance sheet that notes all assets of any significance and all debts. This balance sheet will have to be reconciled, using your estate’s assets to pay off any remaining debt, before your heirs receive anything from your estate. While your heirs could piece your assets and debts together themselves, listing everything in one place will make this process much faster for them.
3. Itemize Your Home’s Inventory
There are two reasons why you should itemize your home’s inventory. First, your possessions are technically assets. Your pillowcases might not be worth much, but you may have some collectibles that are valuable. Second, itemizing everything in your house will help your heirs assess what you have and decide the best way to pass on the priceless items that have sentimental value to your loved ones.
4. Create a Will with a Lawyer
The best way to ensure your possessions are passed on according to your wishes is to create a will. A will is a legal document that governs precisely what happens to your possessions when you pass away. As a legal document, you probably want to consult an attorney when drafting a will.
5. Contact an Estate Management Professional
Once you have all of these lists in order, you ought to contact an estate management professional. Such a professional can help answer any questions about your assets and who is named as beneficiary of any accounts. Many also are happy to hold onto a list of your memberships, assets, and debts for you. (Your lawyer will likely either keep a copy of you will on file or let you know where it should be stored). Even though keeping information might be outside of an estate manager’s typical job, it’s easy for them to include these lists in with your file, and they can give the lists to your heirs if something ever happens to you.