Colorado residents who make the wise decision to map out an estate plan are likely to find themselves juggling both paperwork and digital files. It is likely that the older people are, the more paper records of accounts they’ll have. Younger estate planners, meanwhile, may be wondering how to organize their computer files so that the executor of their will or other estate administrator is able to access them when the time comes.
How can you ensure that nothing gets overlooked by the administrator of your estate? A good first step is to take inventory of all your property and assets and create a list of all your bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies and other relevant records. Using a spreadsheet or another file type you are comfortable with, you can create a master list of all these accounts. They are primarily online or you receive paper statement for them. For each account, you can include a description of the asset, its location (a website URL to the account or where you keep the paperwork for it), the username and account number, and a password to access the account, if it is online.
After you have created this document, you will want to make sure it stays current. Whenever you transfer an account, close one or open a new account, remember to update your master list. Or you could make a point of revisiting the list every three months or so. It’s a good idea to make a note at the top of the list of the last time it was updated. This will make it easier for your executor to verify that all the information on your list is up to date.
Finally, be sure that the person you have chosen to administer your estate knows how to access this master list. If you die unexpectedly, all the work you have done to put this list together will go to waste unless the person handling your accounts knows where it is.
If all of this sounds overwhelming, consider getting help from an attorney who focuses on estate planning. That way you can make sure it’s done properly, no accounts are left out and you can rest assured your estate administrator will have everything he or she needs to complete the job.
Source: BusinessLexington, “Estate planning with digital assets in mind,” H. Trigg Mitchell, Jan. 17, 2013
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