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I'm not getting any younger and wanted to make my passing as easy as I could paperwork wise. I have gathered and organized everything I could into a special colored folder and my daughter has a copy of it all, and she and my husband know the color of the folder in my desk, as I do not keep it out in the open.
Working in a law firm for many years in the estate planning and probate departments, I found that few people actually plan very little, if at all, for the future when it comes to their death. Having your estate planning in place is very important and you should choose an attorney that specializes in that field. Making things easier for your family and especially for making sure that your wishes are honored does need to be memorialized legally. Also, think about the little things and make a list. This list isn't a part of your estate planning documents, but you could keep them together for simplicity down the line.
Write down on paper all the information needed if you pass away unexpectedly or expectedly, and leave with a very reliable person(s). I have one copy with my file in my attorney's office for quick retrieval. I have included all policies of any kind, listing their account or policy numbers, to whom they are to benefit, and exactly what the benefits will be, the company to contact (the phone number to call and where to find the policies etc. (at my home or bank safety box). I list all bank accounts. List EVERYTHING. And change or add to it when necessary. Do not leave anything to chance. Your loved ones will really appreciate your organization efforts in their time of grief. Remember, policies will not be collected unless requested.