One of the reasons why you should work with an estate planning attorney to devise your plan is because there are things to consider that many laypeople would overlook. In this post, we will look at three of the details that should be attended to when you are planning your estate.
Letter of Last Instructions
If you are an employer, you are not going to hire someone, give them a title, and turn them loose with no instructions. They would have a general idea of what they are supposed to accomplish, but they would not have the tools they need to complete the tasks.
You should apply this dynamic when you are planning your estate. Yes, you have to express how you want the pie to be sliced up after your passing, but there is a human element. Someone has to roll up their sleeves and complete the estate administration tasks.
When a will is used to transfer assets, this individual would be an executor, and a trustee is a trust administrator. Your administrator will need certain practical information, and you can provide it in a letter of last instructions.
In this letter, you should record the names and contact information for individuals that should be notified about your passing.
These would include professionals that may have a hand in the process, like your attorney, accountant, and life insurance agent, and you can include personal connections.
The location of relevant documents would be part of the equation along with login information for the accounts that you manage online. Your administrator will need access to physical property, so you should pass along keys and access codes.
These are a handful of the things that you should include in the letter, but there are no particular rules. Just ask yourself what the administrator will need to know and act accordingly.
Beneficiary Designations and Successor Beneficiaries
You may fill out forms for your life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts, and payable on death accounts when you are relatively young. Decades later, you may not accurately remember your beneficiary designations and the percentages that you allotted to each one.
Your mindset can change over the years, and this is one reason to update the designations. Some people know that they should make adjustments and they simply procrastinate until it is too late.
Successor beneficiaries can be named to replace the original beneficiaries if they were to pass away. In a lot of instances, the people that guide you through the document signing process do not mention this detail. You should make sure that you designate successor beneficiaries.
Advance Directives for Health Care
There is no candy coating the fact that people often become unable to communicate medical decisions during the final stages of their lives. You can assert your choices and unburden your loved ones if you are proactive during the planning stage.
A living will is an advance health care directive that is used to state your wishes regarding utilization of resuscitation, mechanical respiration, and artificial nutrition and hydration. The document can include your comfort care medication and organ and tissue donation choices.
Situations can arise that are not directly related to life-support. As a response, you should include a durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy. You name an agent to make these decisions on your behalf in the durable power of attorney.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects patient privacy. To give your agent and anyone else that you choose the ability to speak freely with your doctors, you should add a HIPAA release.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Seminar!
We enjoy getting out into the community to share important information about estate planning with our neighbors. There are a number of seminars on the schedule right now, so you should be able to find a time and a location that will work for you.
There is no charge to attend the sessions, we ask that you register in advance so we can reserve your spot. You can see the dates and obtain registration information if you head over to our estate planning seminar page.