Don’t Put It Off
Estate Planning is oft-ignored and commonly put off because it is rarely an easy exercise. Perhaps people mistake it as “only for the rich” but when the reality of losing a loved one is upon us, the importance of having a good estate plan hits home. No matter the net worth of the individual. In those moments, it is important to have clearly defined wishes to make it as painless as possible for those handling the administrative aspects of an estate. So what does an Estate Plan accomplish?
- An Estate Plan ensures that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes.
- An Estate Plan can specify who has the ability to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself.
So what documents should be a part of every estate plan?
General consensus is that every estate plan should have:
- Last Will and Testament – To many, this sounds so official and daunting that they never consult an estate attorney to get this set up. Yet it is one of the ways you can continue to care for those left behind in the event of your death. This legal document clarifies how you would like your assets distributed to family, friends and charities. It is essential if you have minor children, as you can give directive on who you would like to be guardian. To put it at its most basic: Who do you want to have your stuff? Who do you want to care for your kids? And who do you want in charge of overseeing that all these things happen?
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney – If you were to become incapacitated or unable to make decisions, a financial power of attorney can give those that you trust the ability to make decisions for you. The powers that they have can be spelled out in this document to ensure clarity. Due to changing legal standards, it is good to have this document reviewed to make sure it is up to date.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will – a Healthcare Power of Attorney is specific to when you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. By choosing someone who shares your values and knows your wishes, should an emergency happen, someone you trust is in control. This also could allow parents to have access to their adult children’s medical information, if the children have filled out a Healthcare POA.
- Living Trust – Many people set up a living trust to enable the estate to avoid probate court. This has the potential to save those who survive you time and money. It also ensures the privacy of the Trust assets since probate documents are open to public record. For those with minor children, a living trust can allow the trustee to distribute the assets according to your wishes, rather than an immediate and full distribution at death.
Let Us Help
Filling out these documents can feel daunting. But with the help of a estate attorney, getting these important documents in place can give a sense of relief knowing that you are taking care of your loved ones should something happen. Let us review your plan to ensure your loved ones are taken care of; we can work with your attorney or help you connect with an estate attorney. Making these decisions in the context of your financial plan could help ensure your goals are achieved.