Your estate plan should be comprehensive in nature. The execution of a simple will and nothing more will leave you with an incomplete plan, and we will look at some of the overlooked components in this post.
Letter of Last Instruction
If you are using a will to direct postmortem asset transfers, you would name an executor in the document to act as the administrator.
The administrator of a trust is the trustee, and you would be the trustee while you are living if you have a living trust. In the trust declaration, you would name a trustee to succeed you after your passing.
Regardless of the asset transfer vehicle that you use, the administrator will need certain information to complete tasks that will be assigned to them. You have to share this information, and you can do it in a document called a letter of last instruction.
In this letter, you list the assets and provide access information for the physical property. You have to let the administrator know where they can find all the relevant paperwork, and login information for online accounts will be part of the equation as well.
You should include contact information for your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent, and you can list other people that should be informed about your passing. If you have preferences with regard to your final arrangements, you can pass those along in the letter.
No one wants to think about unpleasant subjects, but a difficult situation can be compounded if keep your head stuck in the sand. Sadly, many elders become unable to handle their own affairs, and the state may be asked to appoint a guardian if you do nothing to prepare for this possibility.
To prevent a guardianship proceeding, you can include an incapacity planning component in your broader estate plan. When it comes to the financial part of the equation, if you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to assume the role in the event of your incapacity.
A durable power of attorney for property can be added to name an agent to manage property that is not held by the trust. There is also a springing durable power of attorney that would only go into effect if you were to become incapacitated.
Have you thought about including your pet in your estate plan? You never know what the future holds, and there are many pets that find themselves without homes because their owners have passed away.
A lot of people do not consider pet planning because you cannot leave an animal an inheritance in a will. However, you can establish a pet trust, and they are now legal in all 50 states.
You would fund the trust and name a trustee to act as the administrator. A friend or family member can act as the trustee, and you could alternately engage a professional fiduciary like a trust company.
When you draw up the trust, you can record details regarding the way you want the pet to be provided for if you die first. The trustee would not necessarily be the caretaker, but they would be compelled to make sure that they find someone to directly carry out your wishes.
Any remainder that may be left in the trust after the pet is gone would go to a successor beneficiary that you name in the trust declaration.
Need Help Now?
If you already know that it is time for you to work with a Burbank, CA estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 818-937-2335.
- There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Estate Plan - March 24, 2023
- Top 5 Reasons to Use a Living Trust - March 22, 2023
- Can I Give Inheritances While I’m Living to Avoid Estate Taxes? - February 17, 2023