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Estate planning: What is a “red folder,” and do you need one?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Many Virginia residents believe their estate planning is finished once they make a will or set up a trust, but these matters typically need more attention. Most plans benefit from periodic reviews and updates to ensure they will function as intended.

Another possible way of ensuring that your plan functions properly is to create a “red folder” containing information for your family if you become incapacitated or die. You can make a folder unique to your circumstances, but here are two basic components to consider including.

Personal information

Your family members know you, but they may know less about your final wishes than you realize. Your file is a good place to store details you may not want to put in formal documents like a will or that your family will need before anyone may get into the estate plan. Here are a few examples.

  • Funeral and burial wishes
  • Online account information
  • Organ donation intentions
  • Favorite charities or organizations

Consider including details about where your legal estate documents are stored (safe, lawyer’s office, etc.) and how your family can access them.

Medical information

Do you have an advance health care directive in your estate plan? If so, your file can reinforce the wishes outlined in a living will or power of attorney. That way, your family members will have no doubt about your preferences in an emergency.

You could also include:

  • Known medical conditions
  • Physician names and contact details
  • Current medication list

Some people like to include a letter further explaining their wishes upon incapacitation or the threat of imminent death.

A red folder may also need to include information about your life insurance policy. Once complete, consider having it reviewed to ensure that it aligns with your formal estate plan documents.

And no, your folder need not be red. It can be any color you like. Just make sure the right person or people know where to find it.