It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, the reality is that we all die. Preparing yourself and your family for the inevitable is best done sooner rather than later. Three of the best things you can do is get a Will, get a power of attorney, and get an advanced directive. Even if you’re in the prime of your life, don’t put off planning for the day you’ll be gone. If you pass before you plan, it’s altogether possible someone else will divvy up your possessions in a way you didn’t want or intend. Your loved ones will be thankful you took the time to write out your exact wishes beforehand. This brings both security and certainty to you and to your family.
Get a Will
The first thing to do when planning for end of life is to execute a Will. We recommend you hire an elder or estate planning attorney with knowledge of your state laws. These legal specialists specialize in advising clients and drafting estate plans regularly. Utilize the state bar association, for the state you currently reside in, like the Georgia Bar Association to locate legal professionals in your area.
Still dragging your feet on investing your money in a professionally prepared estate plan? There are varying opinions and dollar ranges used to define financial wealth, so don’t let is diswage you from hiring an attorney! Completing this plan and making the difficult decisions allow you to express your desires, reducing legal cost to your estate-resolving disputes. If you have minor dependents, you’ll identify their custodian if the need arises.
It is even more important to have an experienced attorney write your Will when you have a considerable amount of wealth. Planning for estate taxes, reducing risk by creating a Living Trust, and other estate planning techniques that your legal team may suggest using. When you die without a Will, your estate goes through the probate court process where it’s decided how your property will be divided.Not only that, but these records become public which is something to keep in mind for your estate as well. Shocking, yet famous examples of people dying without a Will include Abraham Lincoln, Sonny Bono, Prince, and Michael Jackson.
As part of the process you’ll be tasked with selecting your executor. Simply stated, their job is to administer your estate, but it’s not as easy as it sounds so consider the role carefully. Duties include managing your estate assets, filing and paying taxes, and payment of debts. They are responsible for distributing assets or bequests as you direct under your Will. Your attorney can guide you in selecting the best person, even if this is their first or one time fulfill this role.
Have you already executed a Will? When was the last time you revised and updated it? Take into consideration any life changes, law changes, estate tax changes or changes of state residency and update it as soon as possible.
Establishing a relationship with your legal advisory for the long-term. Over a lifetime, you are likely to engage with the advisor for Will revisions and guidance. As your wealth increases, your family’s dynamics shift, and as estate law shifts their expertise and value increases.
Appointing a Power of Attorney
Power of attorney (POA) is simply giving your agent—the person named to act on your behalf—the legal rights to make decisions for you in case of incapacity or absence. Most people think about making a Will. Not everyone gets power of attorney. It is a document that follows you while you’re alive, but it dies along with you, so it is highly recommended to be prepared and have both a power of attorney and a Will.
What happens if you’re not capable of making decisions on your own? Do you travel frequently and prefer that another person to act on your behalf while you are away rather than delaying? Do you need to authorize care for your children?
Types of Power of Attorney documents:
- General – Grants agent authority until you become incapacitated
- Durable – Applies should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself
- Financial – Restricts agent to financial activities
- Limited – Restricts actions to a specific timeframe, scope or even a document.
Executing a power of attorney is frequently done in conjunction with a Will, with financial and limited POA often executed for specific events. Your attorney will identify and draft POA documents specific to your situation and needs. Be honest, be candid during the conversation and never accept being pressured into signing a POA.
Get an Advance Directive
An advance directive, also known as a living Will or a healthcare proxy, helps to establish what your wishes are even if you are not fit to make them. Writing them out beforehand is a perfect way to give your loved ones direction with regards to your care. You might have given a loved one power of attorney, but what do you wish for your own care should you suffer an accident or serious illness?
Advance directives determine whether or not to resuscitate you should your heart stop or if you wish to become a tissue or organ donor. Without an advance directive, things could get ugly within the family. We can’t always determine events that befall us. In times of difficulty, your decision to plan ahead removes the burden from others who need to make decisions in the moment. During emotionally challenging times, this allows the focus of your loved ones to be on relationships rather than decision-making on the spot.
At Organized Instincts, our seasoned team of daily money managers help you get your affairs in order. When the time comes, we’ll support your executor with their new role. Don’t leave your loved ones with a mess. Schedule a free consultation today to help give your loved ones much-needed peace of mind.