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Vermont Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Would You Rather Embark on an Unmarked Treasure Hunt or Navigate a Map?

Imagine you are playing the popular “Would You Rather” game on a family road trip this summer.  Would you rather embark on an unmarked treasure hunt or navigate that route to the treasure using a clearly marked map?  While some adventurers may prefer to search without clues, others will certainly accept the map in hopes of reaching that destination faster and with less frustration.

Now imagine that same question, but there is no game.  You have recently lost a loved one and have the responsibility of settling their affairs.

Would you rather figure things out as you go or have some guidance from that lost loved one?  Undoubtedly, most would prefer the latter, but let’s consider some real examples from real estates.

Would you rather comb through decades of financial statements, tax returns, and check registers to decipher what financial accounts are open, or find a recent inventory of assets and accounts? 

Would you rather spend multiple days cleaning the house and discover 10 wallets containing over 25 credit or debit cards, or quickly find a list of bank accounts and outstanding debts?

Would you rather spend days searching through files containing a resume from 1992, a breakfast receipt from Denny’s in 1997, and a copy of the title to a car traded in 10 years ago, or spend time doing literally anything else?

If we all agree that our days are finite, we know that some loved one will have to settle our affairs.  Unless you have a family of total adventure-seekers, why not leave them a map?  Of course, you should have some form of an estate plan.  But what may be equally important is an updated LIST—an inventory of assets, accounts, debts, and other information that will ease the process for those who survive you.

Would you rather have an amazing tree house or your whole yard be a trampoline?  Leave the games for vacations.

 



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