We’re all going to die at some point.  Not a happy thought for most of us, but it is true that not one of us gets out of this world alive.  What we do now, in the way of organizing, labeling, etc. will determine how difficult it is for those whom we leave behind to take care of our estates. 

Being the Executor is not an easy task to begin with.  In many situations, emotions can be raw, making it even more stressful.  So why not begin thinking and planning for that day NOW.  Make it easier on the one you delegate as your Executor by taking these 10 specific steps ahead of time. 

  1. Make a list of all your assets.  Update this list regularly.
  2. Create a will (and perhaps a living trust).  Make sure it is clear, concise, and witnessed.
  3. As much as possible, hold your property in ways that avoid probate, i.e. trusts, Payable-On-Death and Transferable-On-Death.
  4. Write out your wishes for your final arrangements.
  5. Pre-pay for final expenses, if possible, and leave clear instructions, documentation, and receipts. 
  6. Keep your will, tax returns, deeds, insurance policies, etc. in a place accessible to your executor once you are gone.  Don’t forget to make passwords accessible to your executor as well.
  7. Depending on the size of your assets, you may want to investigate ways to avoid federal estate tax.
  8. Get your debts under control.
  9. Avoid disputes by carefully explaining your estate plan to family members.  Ask them ahead of time to respect your decisions.
  10. If you have a family business or other investments that might be difficult to sell quickly and easily, establish a clear plan for the executor to follow.

For help with liquidating real property attached to an estate, please feel free to contact Shirley Bertholf, Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist, Skagit Tradition Realty, Mount Vernon, WA, 360-840-1863,  lovinlife@shirleybertholf.com