This is the eighth part of a multi part series on preparing for retirement and basic estate planning for feds. If you missed the last 7 parts I suggest reviewing them to understand the estate planning binder concept that this series is based on. This section presents information on financial reports, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), various other asset reports, forms and contact lists that you need to include in your plans.
The financial reports section should include the following reports and lists:
I took digital camera photographs of every room in the house including the garage, back yard, shed, storage areas, the outside of the home and anything that I thought of value for insurances purposes. Then I placed the photos into a word document and added headings for each picture. I also dated each sheet. If we add a home improvement during the year or made major changes I take new photos for the changes and update the word document. I also photographed things that are hard to replace like my wife’s grandmother’s antique china.
You can do this with any camera and simply add comments on the backs of the photos or use the old style photo mounts and put them on sheets for your binder. I like the word document approach because they are easy to update and store electronically on disk. By the way, I keep a copy of all files on CDs in our safety deposit box as well.
Next I compiled a written home inventory of the entire home using Quicken 2006 Premier’s "Home Inventory" feature that is located under their "Property & Debt" main menu selection. This program allows you to enter the item, it’s location, replacement cost and resale value. I printed out the list and added it to section 6.
I completed a SF 2800 "Application for Death Benefits" form and placed removable green arrows at each block that my wife will have to fill out when the time comes. You can download this form from http://opm.gov/forms/ . I advise my wife in a cover letter in this section to call OPM prior to completing this form to make sure it is still current and hasn’t been updated. The phone number to call is 1-888-767-6738. I also provided a basic instruction sheet with steps my wife must take to process this form and included required attachments of a Marriage Certificate, a copy of my military DD-214 form, and a note to attach a certified death certificate. You will find Survivor information and reporting instructions online at http://federalretirement.net/survivor.htm. I suggest printing out this page and add it to Section 7.
Make copies of your phone lists or print out your planner contact list and place it in section 8. I use a PalmOne and the printouts are very thorough and provide all of the contact information my spouse and executors will need to process the estate. Also include a list of all passwords for your accounts, online sites, security systems, and list the location of keys to storage facilities, safety deposit boxes, etc.
Well...... that’s all folks. The binder is done and the only thing I haven’t talked about are the wills, trusts and health directives. They are coming up next. Before you complete your wills and trusts you pretty much have to have all of the info in this binder to proceed. Without it, you may miss many things and you stand to leave your family in a lurch so to speak.