More than half of Americans do not have a will and/or estate plan in place, according to a recent study. Taking into account the current pandemic, there is no time like now to ensure loved ones are protected should an unexpected passing occur. Steve Sexton, financial consultant and CEO of Sexton Advisory Group in San Diego, California, shares his best tips for guarding your financial legacy in 2020.
•Locate and organize all vital documents. One of the most common questions asked when a loved one passes is “Where are the documents?” From real estate deeds to birth certificates to insurance plans, locating and organizing important documents now will help remove the stress associated with trying to find these documents after you or a loved one has passed. Sexton has created a Guarding Your Legacy checklist to help organize and store all vital documents. Once completed, he recommends sharing this checklist with your family and executor.
•Make an itemized list of all assets and create multiple copies of your trust. To help avoid frustration, confusion, and conflict, Sexton recommends creating an itemized list of all assets with clear directions that show who is receiving what. Additionally, he advises that individuals provide copies of the trust to all beneficiaries.
•Create a final expense policy. After being notified of the passing of a person, all associated financial accounts will go on lockdown until death certificates and copies of the trust are provided. This can create complications with burial arrangements and other associated costs and bills that need more immediate attention. However, a final expense policy can allow access to much needed funds within 48 hours of a loved ones’ passing.
•Beneficiaries of the estate should seek guidance from necessary professionals to ensure no money falls through the cracks. Sexton advises beneficiaries to seek professional counsel from a financial advisor and/or tax professional to ensure all forms are properly filled out and to ensure all parties understand the taxable impact of an inheritance. Additionally, he recommends enlisting the expertise of a professional appraiser before embarking on an estate sale. It is small measures such as these that ensure no money is left unaccounted for.
For more information on Sexton Advisory Group, please visit https://www.sextonadvisorygroup.com/