Aug 03, 2021
The Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist
A comprehensive estate plan also ensures that your wishes will be honoured, even after you’re gone.
There are few experiences in life more overwhelming, stressful or confusing than settling the affairs of a loved one who’s passed away. Being the executor of an estate is an important responsibility, especially if the estate is in a state of disarray. Disorganization can compound an already traumatic situation.
The good news is that you are not alone in navigating the uncertainty. Founded in 2020, ClearEstate’s mission is to simplify the duties associated with estate executorship, and help guide clients through the probate process as efficiently as possible.
On average, the estate settlement process can take up to about 400 person-hours, and over about 12 to 18 months, to complete. Often, executors must independently source fragmented and costly settlement solutions. Most are not equipped to deal with this process, which is why a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for executorship is so overdue in the bereavement industry.
We regularly share relevant information about wills and estates.
ClearEstate is committed to promoting transparency and empathy throughout the estate settlement process — one step at a time.
To help get you started, have a look at ClearEstate’s complementary Estate Executor’s Checklist.
This easy-to-read, comprehensive guide written and researched by our leadership team details all the tasks that every executor should be aware of prior to and upon the death of a loved one. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect as you get the process started.
Be prepared for a fast, even dizzying start to your executorship. Even a little bit of advance planning can save your family days of grief.
To start with logistical tasks that are most obvious: things like making funeral arrangements, sending notifications of death (formal and informal), and canceling leases or subscriptions must be dealt with swiftly.
Once it’s time to dig into the paperwork, first and foremost, you’ll need to know the location of your loved one’s will. The will is essential to the entire estate settlement process; without it, an estate is subject to unnecessary costs and delays. Be sure you know its physical location, and ensure it’s up-to-date.
This also applies to all records relating to an estate. Know the location of important supporting documents such as deeds, insurance policies or partnership agreements. Consolidating this information will make the task of assessing the value of assets much easier. Having copies of original documents is always preferable.
If someone plans on transferring assets to a spouse, then it may be wise to set all accounts as joint in addition to making sure that properties and titles are in both names (if this isn’t already the case). That way, the transferring of assets is sure to go a lot more smoothly.
The benefits of planning ahead cannot be overstated. The last thing anyone should have to do while grieving is scrambling to locate papers and forms that are required to access accounts, assets, and so on. Prepare a detailed inventory of all financial accounts, including investment, chequing or savings accounts or safety deposit boxes. This includes account numbers and key contacts with the corresponding institutions.
It’s also worth noting that in 2021, estates are vastly different insofar as the types of assets they represent. Digital assets are the new norm, and these must also be accounted for. This can include cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, social media accounts, PayPal accounts, Air Miles, an online business — these things have intrinsic value and must be secured before they are lost, or worse, hacked.
But it’s not all about dollars and cents.
An estate can also include items of sentimental value, such as a cherished heirloom or keepsake. In many cases, these items can be a source of conflict between family members.
To mitigate tension, communicate: talk to your family and try to build consensus over who wants what. Creating an inventory of such items and their intended recipients will go a long way in avoiding confusion and conflict down the road.
Questions about how to begin your Executor Checklist? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.