This is something my clients hear me saying all the time. In practice we do everyting we can to assist our clients so that their 'road map' remains current as well. On the other hand, we have also assisted families with in their 'forensic accounting' efforts because whatever plan there might hae been was a mystery. We call this a “failure to communicate.”
If you have put your financial and estate house in order, but don't keep it up-to-date or your loved ones know nothing about it, likely you have created a plan that won't work as it was intented.
The importance of communication was the subject of a recent Kiplinger article titled “Key Financial Documents to Share With Your Heirs.” Experts agree that it is important to keep your heirs informed at each stage of your financial and estate planning process. In fact, even better would be to plan with them, depending on their abilities or needs.
At a minimum, you need to have a plan in place so your heirs can take action when the time comes. For example, will they be able to find important documentation so that they can step into your shoes and take care of business as you would? So what do your heirs need to know?
According to the original article, heirs should have access to, or at least access to a way to access, all
of your financial accounts, from banks to investments to insurance policies. They also need access to your estate plans themselves. This includes legal documents such as your will and trust. Do not forget to give them copies of your advanced medical directives or power of attorney forms, too.
Finally, to the extent any professionals have helped craft your plans, then your family should know who they are and how to seek their advice again. Essentially, ensure that your loved ones can find your important documents, records and advisors or your planning may fail.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Reference: Kiplinger (November 2013) “Key Financial Documents to Share With Your Heirs”