Helpful Tips to Organize Your Estate

Although it's one of the few certainties of life, most of us avoid the subject of death.

As a result, family members may experience not only sorrow at a loved one's passing, but also confusion and uncertainty: Did Dad have a will? Where is it? Where did he put his military discharge papers? Did he say he had two bank accounts or three?

One of the best ways to inform loved ones of estate-related matters is to sit down and put everything in writing. To direct organizational efforts and ensure that important details are not overlooked, it may be wise to use a preprinted, "fill-in-the-blank" guide. These guides are helpful because they include pages for important estate and financial information, as well as sections for the recording of final arrangements and cemetery memorialization. One of these guides, the Personal Planning Guide from Dignity Memorialª funeral and cremation providers, is easy to complete and offered without charge.

Put It In Writing

Dignity Memorial providers suggest you write down and leave the following for family and friends:

• Personal statistics, such as Social Security number, date and place of birth, birthplace of mother and father, mother's maiden name, information relating to service in the armed forces.

• The location of your will, the name and contact information of its executor, and the name, address and phone number of the attorney who prepared it. Also note the location of all checking and savings accounts plus safety deposit boxes.

• Credit card accounts should be listed with account numbers and expiration dates. List all life insurance policies. Include policy numbers, company names and beneficiaries and note whether the policies are term, whole life, universal or group. Real estate holdings should be described with the addresses, property descriptions and location of deeds.

• Final arrangement wishes should be explained in detail, such as where the memorial service should be held, who should preside, and what music should be played. Note if you prefer a traditional burial with casket, or cremation. Also, consider where you wish to be buried, or, if you choose cremation, if you want the ashes scattered or kept in an urn. If you own cemetery plots, be sure to include this information.

To obtain a free copy of the Personal Planning Guide, call 1-800-9-CARING. A Dignity Memorial sales representative will mail you a Personal Planning Guide, or, if you prefer, personally deliver it to allow the discussion of related organization techniques and the value of funeral prearrangement.

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