Thinking about the end of your life is not a pleasant thing for anyone, at any age. We all know no one can live forever, but that doesn’t mean we want to think about death. Yet, preparation for the inevitable is critical. There isn’t a prerequisite age for having a will or life insurance, and anyone telling themselves they are too young or too busy for such things is simply being foolish.

Having your affairs in order is not a precursor to death, it is simply the creation of a dossier outlining all the particulars of your financial life so that your estate trustee will carry out your last wishes exactly as you intended. After all, if no one knows where to find your papers, or if they even exist, then no one knows how you want things handled. Without life insurance documents, no one can make a claim. Without proof of ownership, your home could be auctioned off. Prevent instances such as these by bringing together all information and paperwork, creating what is commonly referred to as your Death Dossier.
The Will

Having a Last Will and Testament written up and notarized is a great place to start. By definition, a will is a legal declaration dictating how your assets are to be divided up and who will inherit them. Should an individual pass away without having made out a will, their assets and monies will be distributed as the state sees fit. If there are under age children left parentless, they are usually assigned to a foster home if other family cannot be located or are unable to provide adequate care.

When there is an existing will, but the original document cannot be found, the probate process becomes tricky. Probate is a legal process of taking inventory of your assets, settling outstanding debt and distributing any remaining assets. Family members who disagree with the proceedings of probate can easily contest the will, and if an original does not exist then the copy is easily overthrown.

Best Scenario: Have the original copy of the notarized will in your Death Dossier. There should be a will for each legal adult. This is the most important component of your dossier.
Proof of Ownership

The next most important set of documents for the Death Dossier is proof of ownership for all major purchases. Stock certificates, savings bonds, business partnership arrangements and operating agreements should be in the file as well. Without them, your family will be forced to undertake their own lengthy detective work and may fall victim to fraud via parties claiming to be in business with you prior to your death. When there is no proof of real estate ownership, family members are left to watch for property tax bills or wading through years of bank statements looking for interest payments. Additionally, it may not sound like it but when you take out a loan you own the debt; likewise for loaning out money as well.

Best Scenario: Have all proof of ownership documentation included in your Death Dossier; starting with real estate deeds, vehicle ownership papers, marine craft and cemetery plots, investment certificates, loan agreements, and at least three years previous income tax returns.

Join us for part two in this series, as we continue to list and explain the importance of having a fully furnished Death Dossier.

Author's Bio: 

With so many annuity products available today, Annuity Rate Shopper helps their clients make sense of it all. Their advice, tools and service assist buyers in making an educated decision when choosing from an immediate annuity, fixed annuity or equity-indexed annuity. Visit their site today for a full explanation and description of services.