What should your estate plan include?
Estate planning is a vital step in ensuring that your assets are correctly distributed and cared for after injury, illness, or death. Estate planning is necessary to ensure that your voice is heard. An estate plan should include a will, a healthcare directive and a durable power of attorney.
WillThe first step in forming an estate plan is to devise a list of assets and allocate those assets to the beneficiaries of your choosing. These assets and the beneficiaries will be outlined in your Last Will & Testament. For example, if you own a home, a car, a bank account or an heirloom jewelry piece, it’s important for you to decide who exactly will inherit each of those assets. Will your children split in the sale proceeds of your home? Will they inherit the property as joint tenants? Will your great-niece, Jill, inherit your grandmother’s sapphire ring? Do you want $2,000 to be donated to the local animal shelter or Junior Auxiliary? Etc. These are all necessary questions to ask yourself when devising an estate plan.
You should also designate an executor and an alternate executor (in case your first choice passes away before you do) to oversee the fulfillment of your will and the wishes included in that will. Finally, sign and date the document on every page and have it witnessed by two people to whom you are unrelated.
Healthcare DirectiveThe next step in creating a sound estate plan is to execute a healthcare directive. A healthcare directive allows you the right to refuse or request certain medical care in the event that you lose the mental capacity to make those decisions should that become necessary. When drafting a healthcare directive, you will choose someone as your agent to make decisions about your medical care in your place.
Durable Power of AttorneySimilar to a healthcare directive, a durable power of attorney grants your agent the power to make various decisions for you should you become mentally incapable. You can decide exactly what decisions you would like your agent to make for you, but many times a durable power of attorney will allow your agent to do one or more of the following on your behalf: buy and sell your property; manage your banking; and prepare your tax documents.* The person named as your agent should understand their role and accept the responsibility.
Though seemingly complex and intimidating, we are here to walk you through every step of the process. We are here to help ensure your voice is heard!