This October, we recognize Estate Planning Awareness Week. Whether you are a young adult just starting out in life, or one half of a long-married couple, have you considered the importance estate planning can play in securing your future and the future of your family, in the event of your temporary incapacitation or death? The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light how crucial estate planning is even if it may be the last thing you would typically be thinking about. Having an estate plan can give you peace of mind and the knowledge that, should the worst happen, your wishes will be known and respected.
Depending on your age, marital status, and parental status, and what kind of assets you have, estate planning can be simple or a bit more complex. Having a written will that states whom you would like your assets to go to, and who should have guardianship of your children if they are minors, can be a very important piece. Nominating someone to be your power of attorney and health care surrogate are also important steps to take.
Your will is a set of instructions to your personal representative, who is the person who will handle dividing up your estate in the event of your death. By writing out exactly what you would like to happen, it is more likely that your wishes will be followed, and following them will be easier for your personal representative..
If you have minor children, nominating a guardian who would care for them if you and their other parent, if applicable, may be the most important part of your will. Additionally, you should decide whether the guardian of your children should also handle the finances, or whether you would like to choose a separate fiduciary guardian to work with their physical guardian to manage any money you leave for their care.
When it comes to finances, your will can be the place to write out who should receive which assets and in what shares. You can put specific beneficiaries on individual accounts, to match what is written in your will. You can also leave personal possessions to loved ones.
In addition to a will, there are several other estate planning tools you should consider. For instance, a power of attorney allows someone else to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf. A healthcare surrogate allows someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You can choose a trusted loved one to fill both roles or choose two different people who may be better suited to one or the other. By planning ahead now, you get to make the choice.
Estate planning matters can be complex, but they are critically important. For more information, please reach out to our office to schedule a time to meet.