The Biggest Estate-Plan Mistake: Losing It

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The Biggest Estate-Plan Mistake: Losing It

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One of the most important things about an estate plan and associated documents is remembering where they are.

One of the most important things about an estate plan and associated documents is remembering where they are.


Illustration:

Sonia Pulido for The Wall Street Journal

I think you should warn your readers about where they keep their estate plans and how family members can access these documents. A close relative just went through an experience where, for a time, no one could locate this paperwork.

Great point, and something I have been through myself.

My wife and I had a close relative who, as part of a move to a new home, asked us to keep a number of boxes filled with what appeared to be household items. Our relative died suddenly, and no one knew where her will was—or even if she had one. My wife and I ended up digging through the boxes, where, much to everyone’s surprise, we found the will.

Such stories, unfortunately, are all too common. As many financial planners (and no small number of retirees) have told us through the years, people go to great lengths to create a suitable estate plan—and then fail to keep track of the paperwork and particulars.

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Have a question about planning for and living in retirement? Email askencore@wsj.com

Ask yourself: Where is your current estate plan and associated documents? In a drawer? A closet? The basement? A safe-deposit box? Your lawyer’s office? Does your spouse or partner know where the paperwork is, and does she/he have access to it? (If the documents are in a safe-deposit box, does your spouse know where the box and key are?)

Just as bad: Your survivors know where the documents are and can access them, but the paperwork doesn’t include many or most of the details they need: account numbers, passwords, names and contact information for advisers and financial institutions.

A Lack of Planning

Asked whether they have a will that describes how they would like their money and estate to be handled after their death, only about half of surveyed adults ages 50 to 64, and about two-thirds of those age 65 and older, said they have such paperwork.

44%

All adults

18-29

14%

30-49

35%

56%

50-64

By | 2018-02-05T05:45:46+00:00 February 5th, 2018|0 Comments

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