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Planning for Emergencies: The Master Document

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

At the Racine Law Office our premier team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have assisted clients for more than 70 years in creating customized estate plans. Our goal in creating these estate plans is to protect our clients while they are alive and to allow them to distribute their money, property, and other assets to their family and loved ones after they pass away.

Our goal in helping each of our clients prepare their own customized Idaho estate plan is to learn about and then prepare a plan that meets their individual needs and circumstances. To reach this goal we have created an experienced and knowledgeable team of Idaho estate planning lawyers which includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Judges, other attorneys, and most importantly our clients provide the highest ratings possible and positive reviews for each of the lawyers on our team.

Estate planning documents include things such as a last wills and testament, a powers of attorney for finances or property, a living wills and a power of attorney for health care. It could also include various kinds of trusts for people who are under the age of 18 or four individuals who have disabilities or handicaps or for people who want to do more complex estate planning. However, one of the most important estate planning documents that you can have for yourself and for your family and loved ones is the master document.

The purpose of this article is to help you understand what a master document is and how it can help you and your loved ones both while you are alive and after you have passed away. Regardless of who you are, or what your stage in life is, we are convinced that a master document can help you and your family and loved ones.

What is a Master Document?

So what exactly is a master document? It sounds mysterious and maybe even a little complex but the reality of it is that a master document is simple. A master document is nothing more than either a piece of paper, or a notebook, or a folder, or whatever it is that you want that contains all your important information. This type of information would include Social Security numbers Social Security Cards, birth certificates, death certificates, and deeds and titles to vehicles and real estate.

But this is not all. Your master document should also contain all of your estate planning documents. Additionally, it should contain information that you have about your life insurance and other insurance policies. Your master document should also contain everything you need for your financial accounts including the name of the banks and other financial institutions you deal with. Your master document should have a list of the credit card or loans you have with the numbers for these accounts, as well as the bank accounts for your savings and checking, and the contact information for each of these financial institutions.

When it comes down to it, your master document should be a repository for all the important information you have that you deal with regularly in your own life. Because your master document should contain all of this information you will need to update it regularly.

Additionally, because your master document will have so much of your private information on it, you should keep it secure. It should not be typed into your computer in an electronic document. Rather, because of the sensitive nature of the information you are listing on it, it would be best for this information to be handwritten. Once you have this information prepared additional effort should be made to keep it secure. Some people will place their master document in a safety deposit box. Others will simply put it in a home safe or other lock box of some sort that only they have access to.

How Your Master Document can Help You While You are Alive

The next question is how your master document can help you while you are alive. It should seem simple to understand that having this information in a collective spot will make your life much simpler in making sure that everything is kept updated and that you have all the information you need to function in your life. This becomes even more important if you suddenly suffer from some sort of incapacity.

When a person becomes incapacitated either because of an illness such as Alzheimer's disease, or because of an injury, the estate planning that we prepare provides several kinds of powers of attorney that will provide protection for you during your lifetime. The powers of attorney give you the ability to name someone else to legally take care of your money, property, finances, or health care if you are no longer able to do these things yourself. If this were to occur to you, the person who now has the power to do these things for you should have access to your master document so they can help you to the fullest.

If you can no longer take care of your own financing and pay your own bills you can see why it would be important for the person who holds your power of attorney to have your master document so that they know the location of your bank accounts, as well as your account numbers. By having this information, the individual who holds your power of attorney is able to make sure that your bills are paid, and to make sure that your other financial needs are met. It's for these reasons that your master document should be stored in such a way that whoever holds your power of attorney can access it.

How Your Master Document can Help Your Loved Ones After You Die

When you pass away, the information on your master document is also vitally important for your family and other loved ones who remain. This is particularly true of the individual you name as your personal representative in your last will and testament. This is because the personal representative has a legal obligation to take possession of and protect all of your money, property, and other assets. This job becomes much easier if your personal representative has access to your master document.

As you can see, a master document is something that each individual or couple should create. The information that's contained in it makes your life simpler but also allows those individuals that you have named as part of your estate planning to help you while you are alive and to take care of your estate when you pass away. We have counseled numerous clients about creating a master document as part of their basic estate plan, and we are confident that we can help you too!

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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