Make Estate Plans
Estate planning helps ensure your family is taken care of. No matter your age our your health it is important to make proper plans to ensure that your family is taken care of in the event of your injury or death. This such as putting together a will, a power of attorney, and guardianship designations will all help during the transitional phases of loss whether from injury or the loss of life.
Other items to put in order would be a document where all bills and accounts are listed so that they can be easily found and identified. Some people will have extremely complicated estate plans while other people may have very simple plans. No matter what your situation is it is in your family’s best interest to talk about these things early and often and to make the appropriate plans, just in case. It’s also important to consult an estate planning attorney to make sure that you have covered all of your bases in accordance with your state’s laws and regulations.
Make a Will
A will is one of the most important documents that you can have. It will help ensure that your assets are distributed properly and in accordance with your wishes, but it will also ensure that, if you have minor children, you have a guardian in place for them. Just remember that you want your will to match your other documents such as life insurance policies. It’s also important to consult an estate planning attorney, especially the more complicated your estate plan becomes.
The purpose of a will is two-fold; first it is to ensure that your family is taken care of by distributing assets and providing guardianship instructions, but it is also to make sure that the courts will not have to decide these matters for you in probate which will likely not be how you desire them to be taken care of since each state has a different set of guidelines that it follows. Protecting your most valuable assets, your family, is what making estate plans is all about.
A trust is “an arrangement where a trustee holds and manages property or other assets on behalf of a beneficiary. The trustee is the nominal owner of the property or assets and the beneficiary is the beneficial owner.” Trusts come in various varieties and are extremely beneficial to have in your estate plan, especially as you begin to build more wealth. A trust will determine how your assets are distributed either while you are alive or upon your death, depending on the type. It allows you to be very specific in your wishes and desires. You should talk to you estate planning attorney to find out more information about why you should consider setting up a trust.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney can take on many facets and can act in your place to make decisions for you for a variety of situations. What we are talking about here is a durable power of attorney that will be appointed by you to act on your behalf if you are ever found physically or mentally incapable of making decision or upon your death. They will be able to act on our behalf on all matters or just specific matters, the choice and the wording is up to you. This is an especially important document to have reviewed by an estate attorney who knows the specifics of what can be upheld in your state.
A will is an important document to have in place, but it does not dictate the distribution of all of your assets. You need to ensure that your beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and insurance documents. It’s also important to consider what age your beneficiaries are as well. Depending on your state your beneficiary may not be old enough to receive the money without it going through the court.
Account Listing & Special Notes
This particular item dealing with estate planning is much easier than the previous items listed because it does not have any legal specifications to it, but it is extremely important and beneficial especially if you are the one who has primarily taken care of household bills and accounts for your family. An account listing simply has all of your pertinent accounts listed as well as any special information that may be needed to access those accounts such as login IDs or passwords.
The purpose of this document is to simplify things for your family by ensuring that all the information that they need to find and access all of your accounts can be found in one location. Be sure to include things such as life insurance policies, banking accounts, retirement funds, even household bills. Managing your household’s money can be intimidating, especially following a loss or injury.
Another aspect to this is to leave along special instructions and even notes to your family members. Special instructions might include what you would like done at your funeral, where you would like to be buried, etc. It could also include what you would like to see done with certain things. And the special notes to your family members can be a special way for your family members to be able to remember special moments that you enjoyed together and can be something that they can use to help cope with your loss.
No one really likes to think about their end of life, but by making preparations while you are still alive and healthy you can make a difficult situation a little bit easier on your family. It’s important to remember though that these things need to be updated regularly and it may even be wise to sit down once a year or at a set schedule of time to review, update, and revise anything that you may have included in your estate planning.
Lastly, it is important for these documents to be kept together in a safe place where they can be accessed by the person that needs them. They also need to know where these documents are located and how to get them as well as they need to know your intent. If they are the executor of your estate, for instance, they should know that and it would be wise for them to have a better understanding of your documents and your intent for your estate.
How well you plan now will make a huge impact for what could be needed tomorrow or hopefully a long time down the road. We do not know when our time will come, but it always comes, so it is best to be prepared to make it just a little bit easier on those who we’ve left behind. Estate planning does not need to be complex, but it does need to be thought about and planned.
For more information on estate planning or any other money related manner please contact Jeremy by calling 573-208-4266.