A client of mine calls it her “Just in Case” file. She created the three-ring binder for her family “just in case” something happened to her and she was unable to explain her wishes to them.
You could take a page form my client’s playbook and create a “Just in Case” file to ensure that others will follow your wishes with regard to your medical care and your property. Your family may not know your thoughts about your medical needs, memorial plans or your home. This is your chance to tell them.
What should you do to get organized?
• Appoint a health care agent. You have the opportunity to choose someone to make sure your health care wishes are followed.
• Choose someone to handle financial matters. You should appoint someone you trust to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters (pay bills, collect Social Security payments, work with Medicare) in case you can’t because of illness or disability.
• Check your beneficiary designations. Retirement accounts and life insurance are distributed to the person you list on a beneficiary designation form. Be sure you have the correct beneficiary listed to get the proceeds upon your death.
• Provide a list of assets. Clients often come to me after the death of a loved one with no idea what property that person had. I had a client who called seeking assistance after spending hours trying to find the company that held her husband’s retirement account.
• Set up transfer of real estate. If you own a home or other real estate, your heirs may need to open a probate to transfer the property from you to them. Proper planning can avoid probate.
• Get a will or a trust. These allow you to name the beneficiary for all of your assets not already designated to someone.
These are some of the important tasks to handle in preparing for illness, disability or death. Planning ahead and providing a “Just in Case” binder for your family can bring them a sense of peace, knowing that they are handling things in a manner determined by you – just in case.