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Estate Planning Essential Documents

We never know what life will throw our way. One day we are running our business and the next, we can end up in a hospital or even pass away. Having these essential documents created and in place can ensure a smooth transition for our family and business partners if something were to happen to us unexpectedly.

12 Essential Documents to Ensure a Smooth Transition in the Event of Death or Disability:

1. Will: A legally binding document that outlines how a person's assets will be distributed after their death. It should be updated regularly and kept in a safe place where family members can easily find it.

2. Life insurance: A policy that provides financial protection to a person's loved ones in the event of their death. It is important to review and update the policy regularly to ensure it still meets the needs of the family.

3. Beneficiary designations: Many financial accounts, such as retirement accounts and insurance policies, have beneficiary designations. These designations determine who will receive the assets in the event of the account holder's death. It is important to review and update these designations regularly.

3. Power of attorney: A legal document that gives another person the authority to make decisions on a person's behalf in the event they are unable to do so.

4. Advanced medical directives: This includes living will and medical power of attorney, which outlines a person's wishes for medical treatment in the event they are unable to communicate them.

5. Funeral/Burial plans: A funeral and burial plan can be pre-arranged and prepaid, so that your loved one doesn't have to make those decisions at a time of grief.

6. Emergency contact list: A list of important contact information for family members, friends, and professional advisors such as attorneys and financial advisors.

7. Digital assets inventory: A list of all digital assets such as email accounts, social media accounts, and online accounts. It should also include passwords and instructions on how to access them.

8. Personal property inventory: A list of all personal property, including jewelry, artwork, and other valuable items. It should include a description of each item, and any documentation, such as appraisals or purchase receipts.

9. Final instructions: A letter or document that provides final instructions, such as funeral or memorial service arrangements, and any other important information that the deceased person would like their loved ones to know.

10. Buy-Sell Agreement: Legally binding agreement between the owners of a business that outlines how the business will be transferred in the event of an owner's death, disability, or retirement. It should be reviewed and updated regularly.

11. Business Succession Plan: A plan that outlines the steps that will be taken to ensure the continuity of the business in the event of the owner's death or incapacity. This should include details on the transfer of ownership, management, and any necessary financing arrangements.

12. Business inventory and assets list: A comprehensive list of all assets and inventory, including equipment, vehicles, real estate, and accounts receivable, etc.

It is important to review and update this checklist regularly, and to share it with family members and trusted advisors. This will ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and that your wishes are carried out in the event of your unexpected death. Additionally, this will ensure the continuity of your business and the protection of your business assets and investments.

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