In an article, Pat Mertz Esswein explains how her mother took all the right steps in laying out her estate plan, so that when she passed nothing was left undone and no one was left to deal with unanswered questions.

Mother & Daughter

(Photo credit: footloosiety)

Pat’s mom kept her will, power of attorney, and advanced directives accurate and up-to-date, and stored them together in a large white envelope. After a health scare in 2008, during which the family could not find the envelope, Pat labeled it “THIS IS IT” so that there would be no confusion.

In addition, after 2008, Pat’s mom registered her power of attorney at the county courthouse, and added her as a co-signatory on her safe-deposit box, so that Pat could start planning and organizing her mom’s financial affairs while she could still communicate her wishes. The experience was helpful later on when Pat was tasked with being executor of her mom’s estate.

Pat’s mom was clear about what kind of funeral she wanted, including specifics such as the dress she wanted to be buried in and who should serve as the pallbearers. Pat’s mom made it simple to contact friends and relatives with up-to-date holiday and email lists. Also, she left a list of her “team,” including her lawyer, accountant, stockbroker, priest, and insurance agent. In her will, Pat’s mom even left her daughters some advice and instruction saying, “Please do not have any hard feelings over things. Your relationship as sisters is far more important.”

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