In last week’s post, I shared tips for making sure your loved ones will be able to find your estate planning documents when these documents are needed. Issues can also arise when it comes to finding the assets of someone who has passed away. It is common for one spouse to handle finances while the other spouse does not know the details of the assets they own. Often, we also don’t know what assets our parents, grandparents, and other family members own.
Wills are usually drafted broadly and do not list every asset a person owns because the stuff we own on the day we die will be different from what we had the day the will was made. Typically, some things will still be the same, but it’s common to buy and sell vehicles and property, save and spend money, and change banks, insurance policies, or other types of accounts.
Also, although there are search tools for some assets, such as real property, business interests, and vehicles, there is no centralized search tool that lists every asset a person owned.
It’s a good idea to keep a list of assets with your estate planning documents or somewhere else that the list can be found. It’s also important to update this list periodically, adding new assets to the list and removing assets that you do not own anymore. If you choose not to have this list, it can be helpful to keep records of assets together in one location.
These tips can also be helpful when it comes to debts, and it’s a good idea to keep a list of debts and creditors. Secured creditors are entitled to notice of their debtor’s estate administration. Notice is permissive to unsecured creditors, but doing so limits the creditor’s time to make a claim against the estate, so it’s generally a good idea to send this notice. If you keep records of existing debts, this can also be helpful for verifying the authenticity of creditor’s claims.
Finally, make sure your loved ones have access to your digital files, computer, and/or cellphone, especially if you operate exclusively in the digital realm.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.