When your loved ones have to administer your estate and see that your wishes are carried out, it's critical to be organized and to let them know in advance what they will need to do.
According to the Southeast Missourian's article "Get it together: Organizing your estate now will ease the burden on loved ones later," organization is critical in estate planning, especially for an executor of an estate. To simplify the organization process, some use software that aggregates all of their financial data, including digital copies of their estate documents, giving them access to all of the financial and estate plan data in one secure location. This makes things much easier for the estate administrator or executor, especially for children or executors who live out of state.
Those who choose to store their own documents need to make certain that their spouse, other family members or friends can easily find important papers. It's a huge favor to them to organize these by creating a filing system.
One way of organizing services is to develop a filing system that is easily readable. Use a standard, sensible method. Place the tabs on the folders on the left side because your eyes normally start reading on the left. If all the tabs are on the left, you can read the tabs more easily than if some are on the left, some in the middle, and some on the right.
Compile documents into categories of those updated periodically and those stored permanently. Make a section of files that are yearly files, which you'll clean out at the end of the year, as well as "forever" files. These are life insurance policies, homeowner policies, birth certificates, marriage license, immunization records, wills, and other estate planning documentation.
You can also use color coding. For instance, you can use red folders for medical information, blue folders for your utilities files, and green for your investments.
An adult child is frequently asked to sort out estate matters after the death of a family member. Many families have one or two children who will oversee the distribution and settling of an estate. It's important that these kids be involved in the estate planning discussions to understand how the estate is set up and where important information can be found if needed.
Some folks even have a dress rehearsal with those involved to rehearse the various steps necessary to settle the estate if mom and dad are no longer living. It's a terrific way for folks and their kids to see how important it is to remain diligent about estate planning, and it also creates some peace of mind for everyone involved.
Reference: Southeast Missourian (March 7, 2016) "Get it together: Organizing your estate now will ease the burden on loved ones later"