I’ve written a lot of these blogs in the past and I always begin with the same phrase, “I know it’s not an easy thing to think of, but …” and yes, this is going to be one of those blogs. One of the most important things that you can do for your family is to make sure that all of your documents are in order. That means your John or Jane Hancock has to be there, otherwise, the people you leave behind will have a lot of red tape to cut through.
I recently heard a story about a man who had died suddenly, leaving behind a young adult son. Like many of us, the man who died had been at a job that had offered him life insurance and certain other benefits when he retired. However, as the grieving son began to sort through things, he realized that his father had never signed any of the paperwork that would have put these benefits into effect.
Maybe the father thought he’d get around to it soon, maybe he thought that he had already signed the papers, maybe there was a miscommunication with the company, but the reality of it is that this man’s only heir is now left with a lot less than what his father intended. Furthermore, when he should be mourning the death of his father, the son is now having to deal with human resource departments, insurance companies, and attorneys.
This all could have been avoided had the father taken a few moments to check that his affairs were in order.
Over the next few weeks, take some time to check in with your employer—or yourself if you are your own employer—to make sure that you’ve signed up for all the benefits that will protect your family in the event of your death or disability. Make sure these papers have been properly filled out, and that your beneficiary designations are current.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of ex-spouses still being the beneficiary of a life insurance policy when a new spouse is in the picture. This can make for an extremely uncomfortable situation for all involved.
If it’s been a few years since you’ve reviewed your estate plan, go over that as well to make sure it is still up to date. If you drafted your estate plan yet or it needs to be updated, please contact our office at (978) 269-4485 and we’ll be happy to help you get started.