Most of our readers in Washington probably see reports from time to time that claim that the majority of people in America do not have an estate plan. In reality, this is probably true. Estate planning just isn’t something that most people think about, for a variety of reasons.
Some people think that they don’t have an estate, so they don’t need an estate plan. Some think that they simply do not have enough assets to warrant the need for an estate plan. Others simply don’t care what happens to their assets after they die.
Those who do take the time to have a comprehensive estate plan drafted and executed are taking a significant step toward helping their loved ones to understand their wishes and intent.
You may have a will, a trust, power of attorney documents – whatever is included in your estate plan, it is there so that someone else understands what you want to have happen in certain circumstances. So, those instructions that are included in estate planning documents need to be clear and concise.
But, those instructions also need to be accessible – and whoever you intend to use the instructions in the estate plan needs to know about the plan. A recent news article addressed a fundamental question: When your estate plan is done, where do you keep it?
Don’t hide your plan
For whatever reason, many people who have an estate plan are secretive with the documents. They default toward hiding them in a secure place, and they don’t discuss the documents even with those who will be the beneficiaries of their plans or those who they need to make decisions in their place.
However, hiding estate planning documents isn’t a good idea. They need to be someplace secure, yes, but they also need to be someplace where your loved ones can access them when they are needed. Typical locations are: filing cabinets with your other important documents; a personal safe; and, of course, safe deposit boxes at your bank.