Most people do not have estate plans, and since there is so much procrastination, there are those that take a bare-bones approach. They think that you draw up a simple will and there is really nothing more to the process unless you are very wealthy.
In reality, there are additional estate planning details that you should address that are quite important, and we will look at some of them in this post.
Letter of Last Instruction
You should make sure that your executor or trustee has all the information that they will need to complete the tasks that will be required to administer the estate. This can be shared in a document called a letter of last or final instruction.
The letter should include an accounting of the property that will comprise the estate, and you have to explain where it is and how it can be accessed.
A list of people that should be notified about your passing should be shared, with an emphasis on relevant professionals like your accountant, attorney, insurance agent, and funeral director. The contact list can also include people that you know personally.
Access information for online accounts will be part of the equation, and if you have preferences with regard to your final arrangements, you can pass them along in this letter. Basically, you apply common sense and ask yourself what they will need to know to complete their tasks.
Your plan should address the possibility of incapacity late in your life. If you think it is very unlikely, you should digest some rather inconvenient truths.
The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that more than 30 percent of people that are 85 years of age and older are Alzheimer’s sufferers. Dementia can be caused by other conditions, and there are those that cannot handle their own affairs because of physical medical challenges.
You can address this possibility through the utilization of certain documents that assert your wishes in advance in a proactive manner. A living will can be executed to state your life support preferences and your organ and tissue donation choices.
This is an advance directive for health care, and another necessary directive is a durable power of attorney. You name an agent in this document to make medical decisions on your behalf that are not related to life-support.
A HIPAA release authorization must be signed as well to give your health care representative and anyone else that you want to add the ability to access your medical records.
For financial decision-making, you can include a durable power of attorney for property. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity.
The last detail that we are going to look at can seem like something that is a bit odd, but for many, it is important. It is possible to use a pet trust to set aside resources that will be used for the benefit of your pet if you predecease the animal.
People that do not have a support system can go forward with peace of mind if they know that their fine furry friends will be provided for if the unthinkable takes place. And of course, senior citizens can enjoy the benefits of pet ownership if they know that this base is covered.
If you establish a pet trust, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator. It can be someone that you know personally, and a trust company or the trust department of a bank would be another option.
You would leave instructions regarding the way you want the animal to the cared for if you die first, and the trustee would be compelled to make sure that your preferences are honored. After the passing of the pet, a successor beneficiary that you name would inherit the remaining assets.
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We conduct seminars on an ongoing basis that cover the most important estate planning topics. You can learn a lot if you attend one of these sessions, and there is no charge, so this is a time investment that will yield dividends.