The object of your estate plan is to provide a roadmap for the disposition of your estate assets upon your death. Although a court will officially oversee the probate process in most cases, the person you appoint to be the executor of your Last Will and Testament will be responsible for the day to day tasks associated with the probate of your estate. Aside from creating a comprehensive estate plan, there are some other practical steps you can also take to make the probate process run a bit smoother, which in turn will speed up the process of transferring your assets to beneficiaries.
- Put together a copy of all estate planning documents, including an original copy of your Last Will and Testament. Ideally, you should give these to your executor now. If that is not an option for any reason, keep them in a safe place such as an in-house fireproof safe.
- Create a file with ancillary documents such as promissory notes, loan documents, titles, deeds, account statements and anything else that relates to an estate asset or debt.
- Make a list of all estate assets and debts. Be sure to update these lists as necessary.
- Make a list of all electronic passwords and codes that will be needed to access online accounts, e-mail accounts and social media accounts such as Facebook.
- Write your executor a letter. Include in the letter wishes, instructions or details that do not fit anywhere else in your estate plan. Comments about beneficiaries that may be of use, directions to your lakeside cabin, or even where the keys are to the garage are things that you might include.
- Taking a few minutes of your time now could shave a few weeks off of the time it takes to probate your estate when the time comes.