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Include a financial inventory with estate planning documents

Many New Jersey residents experience a sense of relief when their estate planning documents have been drafted and signed. Having this important financial step completed can bring about a feeling of comfort in the knowledge that these matters have been properly addressed. However, there is one addition to the estate planning process that is often overlooked. Including a financial inventory can be a great help to the individual(s) tasked with administering the estate.

A financial inventory is just what it sounds like: it is an accounting of all of the places where one's assets are held. This often takes the form of a list of various accounts, which can include bank accounts, investment accounts, pensions, mutual funds and more. Accounts that represent liabilities should also be included, such as car loans, mortgages, student loans and credit cards. Individuals must also note any and all insurance policies.

Next, a list should be made of all important paperwork. Examples include titles, deeds, insurance policies, prenuptial agreements and any military documentation. By creating a list of these documents as well as notes on where they are located, it is easier for the estate administrator to see when something is missing and to know where to look for those papers.

Finally, a financial inventory is not complete without a full breakdown of those persons who are to be notified when one's death occurs. The time frame immediately following the loss of a loved one can be hectic and stressful. By having a comprehensive list of the individuals who should be notified, the process of making those calls is made easier. In addition, family members in New Jersey may not have the proper contact information for clergy members, employers or attorneys, so having this provided alongside other estate planning documents in advance can be very helpful when the time comes.

Source: Springfield News-Leader, "Estate planning: Your financial inventory", Dr. James Philpot, March 28, 2015

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