Imagine a scenario in which an Oklahoma family has gone through the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one. They are immediately thrown into a hectic situation in which a number of important decisions must be made in a relatively short period of time. When they begin to sort through their loved one's estate planning package, they are unsure if the assets discussed within the existing documents represent the full range of accumulated assets.
What about those savings bonds that used to be kept in the office desk? Does anyone remember if that old life insurance policy is still in effect, or where it was purchased? How about the rare coin collection that no one has seen in quite a while? All of these are valuable assets, but they are also very easy to lose track of over the years.
By creating a comprehensive list of assets, individuals can give their loved ones all of the tools and information needed to access all accumulated assets. This list should include a full accounting of all accounts and items of value, as well as the location of any other information required for access. Periodically, the list should be updated, and those changes should be dated so that loved ones can rest assured that the list they are viewing is current.
While this is not as important as the creation of wills, trusts or incapacitation planning documents, having a complete list of assets is a very powerful estate planning tool. When loved ones are able to see the full range of wealth that their Oklahoma relative has accumulated, there is comfort in knowing that none of those hard-earned assets will be lost. In a way, completing this step is one of the most thoughtful aspects of the entire estate planning process.
Source: marketwatch.com, "Review your estate plan against this 14-point checklist", Art Koff, July 20, 2015