When you die, your estate assets will likely need to pass through the legal process known as probate. The probate process can take months, even years, to complete. Estate assets are often held up in probate and therefore inaccessible to beneficiaries during this process. Along with creating a comprehensive estate plan, there are some other practical things you can do to move the probate process along. The most important thing you can do is to make your executor’s job easier.
Your executor will be responsible for inventorying, valuing and ultimately transferring your estate assets to beneficiaries. One way that you can help is to make sure that your executor has access to everything that he or she needs to do the job. Put together copies of all estate planning documents, including a copy of your Last Will and Testament, and make sure that your executor either has the copies or will have easy access when you die.
Along with copies of official documents, make a list of all estate assets and all of your debts and creditors. Make sure that you update these lists periodically as well. Include copies of relevant paperwork such as deeds, titles and account statements.
Finally, prepare a memorandum of wishes or a simple letter to the executor. Although this is not a legally binding document, it is your opportunity to include any helpful information that may make the executor’s job easier. Something as simple as where your boat is docked or which boxes contain your family heirlooms can be amazingly helpful.
Pyke & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.