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Estate planning guide

by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | June 7, 2020 at 2:00 a.m.


◼️ Connect the Dots. Various assets and financial holdings — from your bank account to your IRA — have different rules for closing out or transferring upon your death. April Pollard, a Little Rock financial adviser with Edward Jones, said learning what those rules are and establishing survivorship or power of attorney now avoids holdups later.

◼️ Store Wisely. A When I Die file — be it a binder, thumb drive or shoe box — should be stored someplace secure from theft and fire, such as a safe. Just be sure to share the combination with people who will need it. Also, be sure to name a successor owner on a safe deposit box; if you don't, lawyer Jennifer Pierce said, you may have to get a court order to drill it.

◼️ Preplan Funerals. No one wants to pick out caskets a day after their loved one has died when they are in a poor state to make decisions. A preplanned funeral eliminates all of that, which is why lawyer John Shram called it "the single greatest act of love" a person can do for their family.


◼️ Going Alone. Think long and hard before going online for estate planning, Shram said. Do-it-yourself options may look easy but fail to provide the objective, leveling viewpoint of a live professional, to say nothing of their legal expertise.

◼️ Password Lists. Passwords are a fact of life, but Pierce cautions against writing them down for survivors. Not only can a written list be compromised, but it's easy to forget to update once you change passwords. Opt instead for a secure app.

◼️ Failure to Communicate. Too often, people set up an estate plan and When I Die file, then don't tell family members what's expected of them. Financial adviser Pollard said a certain amount of transparency is critical for your wishes to be carried out as designed.

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