One happy occasion to plan for is the birth of your child. Planning should include a “ready bag,” which includes everything that you need when heading to the hospital because it is time for the baby’s birth. It is best to plan for your ready bag before the labor pains start.
If your idea of exercise is a long jog through the woods, your ready bag should include a few first aid items, some rain gear, and water. Your last ready bag is not a bag, but a file. Good estate planning includes pulling together all of the documents that your survivor(s) will need to make the days and weeks after your passing less hectic and mind searching. Your last ready bag should include:
The key to your safe deposit box;
The original of your last will, signed, witnessed and notarized or a note as to its location;
The name and phone number of your probate lawyer and your financial planner/banker;
A copy of your trust;
A copy of your most recent tax returns;
The titles to your vehicles if they are to be disposed of;
Documents pertaining to your funeral plans;
Copies of all of your life insurance policies;
Documents relating to organ donation if not already with your doctor or hospital;
Directions for the disposition of firearms, pets, and works of art; and,
any other thing that you know about but your spouse or children may not know about.
You should let your potential survivors know where to find the file. Don’t point to a drawer in a line of file cabinets. Make it clear. Make it easy for your survivors to get through the weeks after your death and to deal with the paperwork which will come.
Finally, no one knows when the file will be needed so pulling the file together is something that should be done when your estate plan is undertaken and updated annually on a particular date.
Spouses and partners should put together a joint last ready bag and make sure to let the children know where to find it.