• Chelsea Burns

Wills and Beneficiaries First, Desert Towers Second


Early November I was driving across I-90, my camper was packed full of climbing gear and skis, and my dog was sleeping in the back seat. We were set out to live between the Utah desert and Boulder, Colorado for the remainder of 2020. As I drove over the mountain pass and descended into Eastern Washington, my phone rang. It was a Pipeline Angel member calling to solicit some advice. Her mother-in-law had just passed away and she was in the early stages of navigating the estate process. "Where do I even start," she asked? An hour later we had reviewed some basics, chatted about personal matters, and began to brainstorm beyond the recent death of her beloved mother-in-law. The holidays were coming up and this was the perfect opportunity for her husband, her siblings, and her husband’s siblings to discuss their own estate plans and make sure their affairs were in order.


The call from my colleague came at an opportune time. With some recent change of life events and in preparation for my two month road trip, I had just spent the last couple weeks corresponding with my lawyer to update my will, making appointments with my banks to update beneficiaries on all my accounts, and reflecting on how I wanted my wealth to be distributed when I pass.


Make a Plan, State Your Wishes, Outline Your Assets


The attention to detail I pay towards navigating my post life affairs may seem a bit obsessive to some. I am a 33 year old, healthy, childless person. Who cares? The answer is that I care. I care for my mother and my best friend who are the executors of my estate. Although I am young, I take full responsibility that my active lifestyle as a rock climber does not come without risks. The estate world is challenging enough to navigate based on its innate inefficiencies. It is not my loved ones’ responsibility to guess what type of after life celebration I want, where all the passwords to my accounts live, or where my assets exist in this world. Rather, it is my responsibility to make the process as smooth as possible so that my loved ones can spend their time grieving rather than guessing, or worse, in court.


Before I left for my trip I drafted a guide for my mother that outlines my assets and the steps she should take should something happen to me. I deleted all my personal information and shared it with my Pipeline Angel colleague so that she and her family could use it as a reference as they continue to work on their own estate plans. When I followed up with her yesterday and asked her how the estate planning process was going she answered: “It is overwhelming but work like this is needed. This is a growing need in my demographic.”


Note to readers: First, I am not a lawyer. This is simply a guide I came up with myself to help me with my own personal estate planning process. Consult professionals. Second, I am quite far along in the estate planning process. If you haven’t started, I would recommend reading my article “First Basic Steps in Estate Planning.” My #1 recommendation to people just starting is always to go digital. Lawyers are pretty expensive and outdated! Trust & Will is one company I recommend.


Chelsea’s Estate Planning Guide


1. Contact lawyer to get a copy of my Will and Trust (or company if you went digital).

  • Lawyer’s Name

  • Address

  • Phone

  • Email

2. Look up the estate process in the deceased person’s city/state. Hyperlink it. Also copy and paste some important information:


My example as a Seattle, WA resident:

  • File my will and start the probate process:

  • To file the will, you should go to the Superior Court Clerk’s office in any Washington Superior Court and file it there. In King County, the Clerk will require you to pay $20 to do this. Bring the original will and a copy, along with a completed Case Designation Coversheet (check “Will Only” on the second page). The Clerk will stamp a case number on the original will and file it. You should stamp your copy with the case number and date-received stamp.

  • Under RCW 11.20.010, if you have the original will in your possession and you are the personal representative named in the will, you must file it with the Court no later than 40 days after the testator’s death, whether you plan to start a probate or not. If you are not the personal representative named in the will and you have the original in your possession, you have 30 days after the date of death to file it with the Court.

3. Contact accountant

  • Accountant’s Name

  • Addresss

  • Phone

  • Email

4. Contact financial advisor

  • Name

  • Addresss

  • Phone

  • Email

5. Locate passwords

  • Tell your executor where/how to get a hold of your passwords

6. Locate estate planning resources, safe for important documents, safety deposit box, etc

  • Tell your executor where/how to get a hold of these things


Assets Breakdown:


Real Estate


Address

  • Deed is under personal name or owned in Trust?

  • Mortgage company if applies

Address

  • Deed is under personal name or owned in Trust?

  • Mortgage company if applies

etc…


Stock Portfolio


Name of Brokerage


Account examples: IRA

  • My account(s) has Transfer on Death named. This means my account is transferred upon death to the person named and shouldn’t go through the probate process.

Account examples: Roth IRA

  • My account(s) has Transfer on Death named. This means my account is transferred upon death to the person named and shouldn’t go through the probate process.

Account examples: TD Ameritrade Individual Brokerage Account

  • My account(s) has Transfer on Death named. This means my account is transferred upon death to the person named and shouldn’t go through the probate process.

Account examples: Retirement Accounts


etc...


Bank Accounts


Bank Name

  • Beneficiary named on account. This means my account is transferred upon death to the person named and shouldn’t go through the probate process. Can have this be a beneficiary or a joint account.

Bank Name

  • Beneficiary named on account. This means my account is transferred upon death to the person named and shouldn’t go through the probate process. Can have this be a beneficiary or a joint account.

Bank Name

  • Beneficiary named on account. This means my account is transferred upon death to the person named and shouldn’t go through the probate process. Can have this be a beneficiary or a joint account.

etc…


NOTE: business accounts can be a little more complicated. I recommend having someone trustworthy in your life or business be a joint account holder to have immediate access.


Alternative Assets:


Promissory Notes/ Debt Instruments

Name of person(s) or business(es) on the note(s)-phone number, email


Private Equity (e.g. Angel Investments)


Company

Contact

Phone Number

Lawyer’s Information familiar with the deal (name and number)


Company

Contact

Phone Number

Lawyer’s Information familiar with the deal (name and number)


etc...


Crowdfunded/Online Investment Assets


Company (e.g. Fundrise)

Login Info

Contact information


etc...


Cryptocurrency


Company (e.g. Fundrise)

Login Info

Contact information


etc...

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