Having an estate plan is a great way to protect your family after you are gone or in the event of a disaster. However, have you thought about how this plan will be activated?
Your estate plan should include life insurance, disability insurance, savings, and any other protection you think you may need. If you or your spouse were to suffer from a debilitating illness, become unemployed, or die, having the protection of an estate plan in place will help with the financial side of things. So, if an emergency were to happen tomorrow, what’s the plan? Who will be your personal representative to contact insurance agencies and attorneys? Who is named as the guardian of your children if both you and your spouse pass? Is there a plan set in place for this guardian?
Making an estate plan work takes preparation. If a crisis were to happen, there needs to be clear instructions on how things are carried out. There also needs to be clearly laid out names and contact information for guardians, personal representatives, and attorneys. Read on to learn about five ways you can make your estate plan a practical plan that is ready to be set in motion when the time comes.
1. You need to officially inform anyone named in your estate plan once it is completed. They may remember saying they would act as your personal representative or as a guardian of your children, but without having this in writing in front of their eyes, they may not remember. Consider sending them a nice gift with a thank you card to inform them.
2. Every once in a while, remind those named in your estate plan about their role and responsibilities. People will forget. You may even forget! This can be done once a year by giving them a call or sending them an email as a reminder. In some cases, they may no longer be able to fulfill their role in your estate plan. If this happens, you will need to amend your estate plan and add another person in their place.
3. Make a list of practical suggestions for guardians and others named in the estate plan. For example, if your children are minors, include any information that will help the guardian, such as bed times, extra-curricular activity schedules, what motivates them to do well in school, how you discipline your children, and anything else you can think of. When your guardian has this information, the stress level during a crisis will be greatly reduced.
4. If you have a babysitter named in your estate plan, create a Family Emergency Plan and stick it to the refrigerator. The plan should include a list of names and contact information on whom they need to call in the event of an emergency. The plan should also include any instructions you think the sitter will need. For example, who do you want the sitter to call first? Your parents? A family friend? Keep in mind that the instructions will probably be different for different emergencies. A non-fatal car accident versus a death would require different instructions. When you have the instructions laid out for different scenarios, your babysitter is less likely to panic.
5. When it comes to the children’s school, they usually have a protocol already put in place in the case of an emergency. You would have already filled out an Emergency Contact Information form. However, you can also give the school or daycare a copy of your Family Emergency Plan, as well.