To ensure that your heirs have easy access to your financial life, leave them a road map.
The best laid plans of mice and men alike may fall apart in the face of chance. On the other hand, many plans fail because key participants to the plan are unaware that there is a plan. Call it a "failure to communicate."
If you have put your financial and estate house in order, then it will all be for naught if your heirs are caught unaware.
The importance of communication was the subject of a recent Kiplinger article titled "Key Financial Documents to Share With Your Heirs." Experts agree that it is important to keep your heirs informed at each stage of your financial and estate planning process. In fact, even better would be to plan with them, depending on their abilities or needs.
At a minimum you need to have a plan in place so your heirs can take action when the time comes. For example, will they be able to find what is important to take care of business? So what do your heirs need to know?
According to the original article, heirs should have access to, or at least access to a way to access, all of your financial accounts, from banks to investments to insurance policies. They also need access to your estate plans themselves. This includes legal documents such as your will and trust. Do not forget to give them copies of your advanced medical directives or power of attorney forms, too.
Finally, to the extent any professionals have helped craft your plans, then your family should know who they are and how to seek their advice again. Essentially, ensure that your loved ones can find your important documents, records and advisors or your planning may fail.