LEGAL MATTERS: 4 Things You Need To Have In Addition To Your Will
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Your Digital Life
20,000 Facebook users die every day. If you are one of them, who will be able to log in to your account and close it down? How about your gMail account? Your Tumblr? Your Pinterest? What you need is a central place for all your user names and passwords. There are many good password manager programs that will do the job including at least two free ones: KeePass and PassWordSafe. Each program creates a vault, accessible with one master password, for you to record information on dozens of your accounts. Sign up for one then put a copy of the master password with your Will.
Storing Your Records
Safe deposit boxes are for valuables, not important papers like your Will, insurance policies and financial records your family may need quickly if you get sick or die. A better place for them may be a fire-resistant box in your house. Tell your family about it, give them keys, and make sure they know where you hide it. If you want a high-tech way to make sure your important papers get into the right hands after you die, consider an on-line program like Assets in Order (Free - $20/Year) or Legacy Locker (Free - $30/Year).
Your Funeral & Burial
If your funeral, and what happens to your body after you die, is important to you, you better plan ahead. Your Will only controls where your stuff goes; your next of kin gets to decide where your body goes. (If you have one, your spouse is your next of kin, otherwise it is your closest blood relative.) If he or she decides to cremate you and dump your ashes in a landfill, there is nothing the devoutly Catholic people named in your Will can do to stop them.
The solution? In Rhode Island, state law allows you to appoint a Funeral Planning Agent to handle your funeral and body. It is not that easy in Massachusetts. There you may have to resort to writing something like this into your Will: “I leave $x to (name of your next-of-kin) but only if he/she carries out these instructions for my funeral and the disposition of my body after I die.”
Stray Stocks and Bonds
That $50 bond your Grandfather gave you for your 1st birthday will cause your heirs hours of frustration as they try to convince the government you are dead and the money should be sent to them. Your heirs will face an even more intransient bureaucracy if you die with a handful of old stock in your name. It gets maddening - I have seen families abandon stocks and bonds after months of trying to straighten out their ownership. Do your heirs a favor and cash them in now.
You deserve a pat on the back for writing a Will. Wrap up these lose ends and you’ll be ready for the inevitable.
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